The Walls Start to Crumble.

shellI don’t really want to write this but I am going to because I promised myself on the plane ride home from North Carolina that I would try. I also thought of a million ways to start and then I couldn’t. And then I saw on Amber’s instagram that she was reading Donald Miller’s latest book.

I remember seeing that he had a new book coming out a long time ago and as a fan, I was thrilled. Then I saw what it was about. The book is titled Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.

I was not pleased.

I was not pleased because I knew this was a book I should read and one that I would find convicting. I was not pleased because this is probably the biggest area of my life where I like to live with blinders on. If I feel God asking me to do something, I do it. Really, I do.

Except in this area. Except when it comes to relationships (of all kinds).*entryway5

A lot of strands from a lot of different places have been coming together for quite awhile to put me in the place I was on the plane ride coming home. On that plane ride, I tried to think of how I would articulate all these things and gave up. Then I tweeted that I would be posting this today so I could not chicken out.

A few weeks ago, I asked readers what they liked reading about. Someone responded that they liked reading my posts on singleness. I kind of sighed. I think I have written one post solely on the topic but certainly have alluded to it in other places. But who wants to write about singleness? It’s not something I want to exactly be known for. Besides, everyone feels differently about it and is at a different place with it. I don’t know all and I think even then, a few weeks ago, I realized my view on singleness looked on the surface healthy had a lot of hidden (even from me) unhealthy layers to it.

For so long–and I mean years–I was grateful for being single. I wanted to be married someday but being single allowed me to go on these great adventures and experience some amazing things I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. The biggest reason I was content was because I trust God, etc, etc.

I was lying to myself a bit. The truth: I was grateful for being single. The lie? While yes, God knows best and I did get to go on adventures and that was definitely part of my gratitude, the larger part of my gratitude, which I am only now figuring out, came from being protected.

You see, if I was single, as in not dating, not looking, not married, I could not be hurt.

I am terrified of being hurt.

I always have been but when my fears become actual reality in a startling and horrible way, I built walls. Yes, the post about that first relationship is one way my fears became reality–and a big one at that. It isn’t the only way (there are just some things I can’t share). So as I was saying, I really love being single and I don’t get why other girls don’t (which is partly true…girls who can only  think of is being married at 18 or any age really are hard for me to deal with), I also meant: isn’t it so great that I can’t be hurt?

Again, I started peeling back the layers only a little while ago but since then the realizations have been coming fast and hard in a way I cannot ignore. There are reasons for this.

For the first time in my life, over the last few years, I have had the privilege of doing life with married friends in healthy relationships where their lives and marriages and family are for the glory of God. I saw that people hurt each other because that is the nature of being human but that people didn’t always wound one anotherThere is a distinct difference.

This was huge for me.

As I said, I’ve always wanted to be married and have a family. Then, another realization. What I really wanted was for my closest friends who know me best to find this great guy who they could vet and say: you would be perfect with my friend, Nina. You guys will hurt each other because you are human but you won’t wound each other. You will also love God together and laugh a lot. 

I literally wanted my friends to vet some guy for me so that I could be promised that I would not be wounded again (and really, I don’t even love that word because with it is often paired with the word victim but here we are). I wanted that so I could trust this imaginary, vetted guy without doing the work of trying to trust him with the possibility of wounds and hurts. It sounds a little insane when I type it out but it also makes a lot of sense.IMG_8694

Another strand of realization: while I was getting to do life with these great couples, I was also cutting myself off from community. I had been doing this for awhile because again, I had been wounded and I have always kind of had this metaphor for wounds that involved an electric fence and dogs. You see, it is very easy to train a dog to respect an electric fence. I’ve seen it done three times with three very different dogs. All it takes is one minor shock and they never willingly cross it again. So why in the heck would I willingly invest myself in community when the major community I spent my time in as a Christian had left me wounded (not that I was perfect either, let’s be clear)?

I was wary but I could have trusted God. I could have said, people hurt people and ministries and communities and churches are made up of people and you’ve got to get back in the saddle. But I didn’t.

Instead I spent my time building walls–all sorts of walls.

After my silent talk with myself on the plane, I pulled out my Beth Moore Bible Study I am doing with a few friends and we took apart 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20. I’m just going to quote Beth because to take you through the steps of explanation without making you do the whole study but she wrote: “Together they [Paul, Silas, and Timothy] describe a time when the settling sediment of loneliness whips up into the activation of healthy longing. Shifting from bereft to bestirred is when you cease settling for feeling something; you actually start doing something” (Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 58).

My walls were strong and I built them well but for the reasons I’ve listed above (and others but we will get to those another time), I was starting to shift from contentment in my singleness while longing for a family someday to actual loneliness (no community will do that to you).

Before we took off, before I read Beth Moore’s quote, I had already texted a friend (ironically, someone doing the study with) and told her: I can’t do this anymore. I am not fooling myself any longer. I’m not single because I want to be. I am single because it is easier. I am single because being lonely*** is easier than being wounded. But I am tired of being lonely and I am going to do something about it. Then I did the study and read that quote. And I thought, Oh, God, you are so funny. I am going to download that Donald Miller book (Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy
)when I have internet access and with your help, I am going to do something about it. And one of the first things I am going to do is write about it, somehow, because this has, as you know, God, been one way I keep myself accountable. 

I downloaded the book and I am doing other things which I will share with you next week. As always, when I share my heart like this, I am nervous. But here goes nothing.

*I hope it is quite clear that I am not: oh, I NEED a relationship. I NEED to be married ASAP. This is about me letting down walls and just being open to whatever God brings my way which I have not been up until this point. Ya know?

***I am not equating singleness to loneliness. I would never do that. What I am saying, is that, for me, I was lying to myself. I hadn’t just cut out romantic relationships. I had gutted my life so only my most trusted friends remained. I had no community and without community we are lonely because we were made for it. For me, it is all tied together.
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26 thoughts on “The Walls Start to Crumble.

  1. Katie

    Oh Nina, I feel for you because I was in your shoes a few years ago. After a devastating break up (and called off wedding) I shut myself off from not only meeting other people but also from myself. It took years of me lying to myself that dating willy nilly and not being tied down was the life I wanted for myself. It took a lot of courage to face that fact that I was lying to myself but once I did, and recovered from hurting myself and cutting myself so far off from my dreams did I relax enough to let myself open up and allow myself to love others again. To trust others again. After that one big wound I knew better how to take care of myself. You can’t blame everyone else for that one big wound. I hope you can have the courage to do so. If you ever want to chat, I’m here!

    1. Nina Post author

      Katie,

      I am so sorry you went through that. The hard stuff is so dang hard, as I am sure you know. I realized that I was so afraid of pain, I wasn’t really living. Singleness is one area that this manifested itself but it did in other areas too. Thanks for reading and for your kind words!

  2. SFM

    Share your heart, Nina! I (we) will be here to pray for you, love on you and lift you up as you break away at those walls! <3

  3. Katie Elizabeth

    I have a friend struggling with this same thing, although she’s also kind of the opposite. All she has ever wanted was to get married/have a family but she ruins every relationship she gets in because she’s scared after being hurt in the past. We’ve had LOTS of conversations about this 🙂 I’m thinking of you!

    1. Nina Post author

      Katie, I’ve always kind of struggled with those girls and specifically surrounded myself with strong independent (some married some not) women. Which isn’t really fair to them. All that to say, you are a much better person than I because when I can see wedding dresses in a girl’s eye it freaks me out. I would rather be single Han in a bad marriage because I have seen some baaaaaad marriages. I hope this post doesn’t make me seem like I have to get married or be wih someone NOW but that how guarded I have been has been unhealthy. Also I will pray for your friend because I probably need to get over myself about girls who want to get married yesterday.

  4. Christy

    Nina,

    I really enjoy your posts. It’s take courage to speak life into places you would rather keep hidden. The Lord will work mightily with your openness. I know this loneliness and have not navigated (and am currently trying to navigate) it well myself. As a fellow sister in Christ and Chicagoian, please let me know if you need a sister to walk along side you. 🙂

    1. Nina Post author

      Christy,

      Thank you for reading. I love the way you put it: speaking life into places I would rather keep hidden. It’s so true. And in showing these parts of myself to others and to God, He has really been showing me even more than I ever expected or understood. What neighborhood are you in? We should get coffee! xox

  5. Jaelan

    Oh girl. I’m sorry that you’re going through this.
    It’s so good that you were able to realize it, though, and that you’re taking steps to fill your loneliness (from within, not looking to other people to fill that void!).

    1. Nina Post author

      I think it’s good. Yes, going through that stuff was bad but I’ve been so closed to the pain that I haven’t been living. Thank you for reading it and understanding it is not people, even though I talk about singleness! I was so worried people would think otherwise. You’re the best.

  6. carissajade

    Love your honesty and your heart. I think we all want to find true intimacy, and sometimes have trouble with it even in relationships. I’ve definitely felt that lonely feeling and it really does hurt. You’re doing the best thing by finding ways to be open about it, and asking for help!

    1. Nina Post author

      Thanks, Carissa. Seriously, thank you. For reading and for encouraging me!

  7. Sarah

    Love this, Nina! This is so good! You are really honest and vulnerable and I think that’s quite a beautiful thing. I did “Children of the Day” with my Bible study this semester and loved it. 🙂

    1. Nina Post author

      Thanks, Sarah. I don’t know if this is what you had in mind in talking about singleness and it isn’t even about singleness but about just being generally more open in my life. I am loving Beth’s study so much!!!!

  8. Martha Kate

    Oh my sweet friend, this is beautiful. Thank you for writin, for being real, for sharing your heart so boldly. What a gift you are to the world. Jesus is surely using you. So proud and honored to call you friend. Only wish we lived closer for coffee dates. Love you so much! Xo MK

    1. Nina Post author

      Martha Kate, your sweet heart always makes me smile. Thank you for reading and for being my buddy!

  9. Anne

    This. This is why I love you. You are open, honest, and aren’t afraid to move forward even though you might rather stay where you are. You are incredibly brave. Love unfortunately does hurt to some degree….we have expectations for others and they fall short. As do we oftentimes. I love that you are going forward and putting yourself out there. So, so proud of you and so happy for you! Sending you love!

    1. Nina Post author

      Aw, Anne. You are so kind. I am trying to be more open both here and in real life and write one of these more “essay” like pieces once a week (what a boring word). If yOu think of another, let me know! Haha. I heart you! And I am excited to join you on Sunday!

    1. Nina Post author

      You are the sweetest. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes we all need it…that we are brave and strong!

  10. amber

    i hate that lonely is such a negative thing. i hate that lonely is something everyone quickly runs away from with gusto and fear radiating through them. because i don’t think it’s the end of the world to be lonely. in fact, i think it’s human. i think we need lonely to love community.

    lonely happens all the time. it’s to life as losing is to winning, making our busy, fun, communal moments that much more wonderful… though it’s not given that space.

    i can’t wait to hear what you think of scary close. i hope that it’s a blessed book for you… that it encourages and challenges you in the best of ways!

    1. Nina Post author

      Amber,
      I totally agree that lonely is NOT a bad thing. I think lonely gets a bad rap. Maybe alone is a better word. For a long time, alone was GOOD for me. I was being faithful in my alone-ness/loneliness. But then something shifted and it became a crutch. It was no longer about faithfulness but about fear. Alone-ness/loneliness kept me from hurt and pain and that’s how I used it which is not God’s desire for me. I hope that makes sense. I am digging Scary Close as well as Daring Greatly (have you read?). I am so glad we connected through Cassie!
      P.S. I updated the post to attribute the IG to you!
      xo, Nina

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