College. What a freaking mess.
I remember sitting at a round table in the School of Christian Ministries Chapel at Emmanuel College on orientation day. The speaker stood up behind the podium and with heartfelt sincerity talked about how valuable the relationships we would make at EC would be. He spoke of his graduating class from 30 or so years ago and how he had kept in touch with and worked with many of them over the years. He instructed us to look around our table with this hopeful statement “Who knows? You could be sitting with your future spouse!”
A lifetime of searching for a solution to fill my empty soul made my ears perk up instantly and my heart find hope in the possibility of marriage. If I had a wife, my sexuality would no longer be sinful! I was a good man. I had years of experience taking care of a woman. At 19 years old I knew the answer to all my troubles was to find a wife!
Like any young man, whether he admits or not, I longed to be someone’s Prince Charming! The thought of capturing the heart of a woman and making her mine was intoxicating! So I set out to do just that. I was going to find and rescue my fair maiden!
I recklessly began wooing women, promising them the world, completely unable to deliver on my promises and in turn leaving them hanging. I was great at romance and terrible at relationships. I could find the secret spot to look at the stars but when things got tough I was out. I was a womanizer. And the worst part was that I was completely convinced that I was Prince Charming and that my Father, the King, God, was holding us back.
You see there was a cycle that I was stuck in. I would pursue a girl until she succumbed to my wooing, we would date for a while, in most cases, not all, things would go further physically than I knew God would want them to, and I would feel guilt and shame but be unable to stop myself so I would break up with them under the belief that God wanted me to and that he had someone better for me. The problem is that I was a jump first, look later kind of person, so rather than stopping the cycle and realizing that what I was doing wasn’t working, I would just jump into the next relationship.
Marriage was my bait. I used the idealization of marriage to draw in girls. I truly believed in each instance that God had ordained our union but I didn’t have the spiritual or emotional maturity to know what it would take to make a lifelong commitment to someone. I was engaged twice in college less than a year apart and had looked at rings with two other girls during my short 2 years at EC. I was a joke. They even made an anonymous MySpace group warning girls on campus about me which got out to the whole school.
In my heart I wanted to be Prince Charming but I was far more like the Evil Step Mother. In an effort to cope with my own misery I was willing to use and abuse their hearts to soothe my own empty soul.
This was another thing I had to come to terms with. I had to get honest with myself about the wake of wreckage I had left behind me. In the years since I have reached out to many of the girls that I put through this pain. I am sure there are more that I need to speak with but I am trusting that the Lord will lead me to them in his time.
Some were gracious enough to see my brokenness and offer forgiveness and some were not, but it was never about the responses. It was about owning up to what I had done and the choices I had made.
So what’s the point? The point is...being used sucks and more often than not, it’s passed down. My mom was used as a child by some terrible step dads, she used me when she got sick to be her surrogate husband and I used every girl I ever dated as a means of helping me know that I am ok, that I have value. By our very nature as humans we are users. That’s why what Jesus was doing was so crazy, because he called us to selflessness, to be used, to be last, to sacrifice for others. I was trying to worship a God whose very character is defined by serving others and yet I was a womanizer. It was time to get honest and stop pretending that I was some awesome romantic guy. It was time to learn what commitment meant and begin to care about others more than myself.
Have you been used? How are you tempted to use others? How do you intentionally work to break the cycle? Are you using the opposite sex to feel valuable? Are you objectifying them? Are you flirting with them with no intentions of loving them? Are you recklessly dating to see who the best fit is? Are you keeping them on the hook in the “friend zone” as a backup plan? If so, there is hope. You don’t have to live this way. All you have to do is get honest.
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