I knew the dirty little secret.
One of my closest friends sat stirring her Starbuck’s frap into mush. Tears gripped the corners of her eyes and a halfhearted smile forced through as she started to build up the walls between us, arming herself and putting up her defenses.
The words were so empty I could hardly stand it. I knew the rumors, I saw the signs. As time had worn on, we talked less and less. She got further away. I heard about the loud shouting matches, the lengthy fights, the manipulation and verbal abuse accusations from other concerned friends. I was scared for her. Scared it wasn’t just verbal abuse…that he was shoving her, hitting her.
He loves me.
I love him so much.
How do you convince someone they aren’t in love, exactly? Well, you don’t. No matter what I told her, the logic of my argument, the things that I saw, it didn’t actually translate or compute. It didn’t matter the time we had known each other, her trusting or not trusting me or my constant preaching…my words were as meaningless to her as her cover up was to me.
In one last-ditch effort, I blurted out the only words that came to mind at the time—
“But you deserve so much better.”
I still regret that today.
Sucked Into a Black Hole
Love is blind, they say. It’s the worst kind of tunnel vision because once a poisonous friendship or relationship has entered our lives, the orbit of everything changes. This person to us becomes the sun and we circle around and around them.
We don’t understand or see the black hole we are getting ourselves into because of the stars in our eyes.
Every human being wants to be admired and told they are special, men and women alike. It’s intrinsic, as natural as our desire for expression, for competition, for a challenge, or for knowledge. Why else would we have social media, popularity contests, homecoming royalty, reality television, and birthday parties? Attention from others is a drug on any scale and in any form, and some kinds are more potent than others.
But women? We crave something. We go about our day to day lives, hanging out with friends, working, and pursuing our passions, all in anticipation for the day in which someone will enter our lives and tell us that we are more than just special—that we are worth something. Whether we admit it or not, we jump on the chance to be called beautiful, shown off to others, and treated like a catch.
So it makes sense that almost every one of the girls I have known and called friends in high school and college, including myself, have at one point or another run to a friend or a guy who has told them they are liked, loved, valued, and good enough. Because even if it is just one person, and even if that one person is a lot less than ideal, that is a heck of a lot better than being alone and feeling worthless. Right?
Apples and If’s
Being a woman is kind-of like being an apple. We sit shiny, polished, and inviting on the produce shelf. We wait. People walk by and while sometimes they simply ignore us, often they “oooh” and “aaaah” our qualities. Every once in a while, we are noticed intently, picked up, touched. We are either prized enough to be placed in a cart or put back.
But each time we are handled, we get a little more lackluster and a little more discouraged. Maybe bruises develop below the surface that no one can see. Maybe someone takes a large bite and decides we are not what he wants, so he leaves us with a hole in our chest.
Or maybe the worst happens, and we are dropped on the hard floor, damaged deeply and hidden under the produce shelf to rot.
We are all living with these repercussions. Maybe it was just one guy, maybe several. Maybe instead, it was friends, or family, or someone you thought you trusted. You sit screaming inside, just like me and the other girls I know, to the world around you—
“Am I worth anything at all?”
So much of human love and attention is dependent. IF you like a specific kind of music, THEN you are cool. IF you give me what I want, THEN I will love you. IF you look a certain way, THEN you are beautiful. IF you do this for me, THEN you are a good friend.
IF you are shiny, sweet, unbruised and untainted, and available, THEN I will pick you up off the shelf.
This really scares me. I may look somewhat shiny on some days. I may seem good enough, like I have it all together. Some days I might even be charming. But I’m also messy, bruised in places. Sometimes I’m sour, imperfect. There are a lot of days I don’t have a lot of self-worth, let alone feel deserving of the admiration of others.
But what if there was someone who didn’t just want you for your good, but also for the dents and dings underneath? What if you could be loved all the way through?
What if we imagined a world without ifs?
The Words I Wish I’d Said
“You deserve so much better.” It’s not that it was a bad thing to say to my struggling friend at the time. It was a true statement and I thought it was what she wanted to hear. But since that day, I have also been in a black hole, blinded not by love as much as the right words and fancy gestures. And when other people I know told me the same thing, I blew them off.
Why? Because I was searching for worth. Because a guy or a friend was feeding it to me.
I don’t know if saying something better would have changed her mind, or would have changed mine. But if I could go back to that spring day sipping Starbucks, I wouldn’t have said she deserved better. I would have told her that I loved her. I would have told her that to me, she was precious, no strings attached. I would have just wanted to say that she could be with this guy, or she could walk away, but that he did not determine her worth.
Because she, and you, and me…we are priceless.[clickToTweet tweet=”What if you could be loved all the way through? What if there was no ‘if’ involved?” quote=”What if you could be loved all the way through? What if there was no ‘if’ involved?”]
Someone has already seen us, admired us, picked up up, dusted us off from wherever we were hiding and put us in his cart. No matter how dirty or lackluster we get, no matter how bruised or rotten, he doesn’t throw us away or put us back or leave us behind. He doesn’t do “ifs”. He only does always.
God has chosen you. He loves you for all of you. He promises to make you new.
And if God doesn’t do “ifs”, then we shouldn’t do them either. We are valued by him and valued by the people who love us, so how can we get out of the black hole and actually value ourselves?
We can start by telling ourselves the truth—that we are good enough, that we are beautiful and capable and cared for. In the morning, tell yourself the truth. In the quiet moments of the day, tell yourself the truth. Before you close your eyes, tell yourself the truth.
We can continue by loving ourselves all the way through. Love the music you listen to because you think it’s amazing, even if others don’t agree. Watch the movies you want to watch. Pursue the dreams you want to pursue. If you make a mistake, remember you are human. If you have a bad hair day, embrace the frizz.
And lastly, we can tell our friends, our sisters and mothers and cousins, and even the special men in our lives, that regardless of what the world seems to say…
they are worth it.