After posting our anniversary video on wednesday's blog I was overwhelmed by the response! All of the sweet words from friends and family were ironically humbling. Several people left comments, sent emails and even called to share their love and support for us. They were all touching and meant so much! I guess I'm humbled at the thought that there are so many incredible people in our lives who take the time to show us love. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by these amazing people. We love and cherish all of you! THANK YOU! You made our anniversary even more memorable! Perhaps another photo montage is in the future - one that highlights our wonderful friendships! :)
I also received several personal messages from young women who have shared that they are "inspired" by our love and that despite the fact that they have experienced their share of disappointing and failed relationships...our relationship gives them something to look forward to..."a kind of hope to hold on to..hope that true love exists." While I am beyond flattered by this, I could read between the lines and sensed the pain and brokenness in their tone. I sensed it, because I have shared similar emotions. So I felt a need to bring to light what so many women seem to be going through. But first, I want to add a sort of disclaimer before I get into this discussion. I am not perfect, my relationship is not perfect and I don't claim to have all the answers. But I am genuine when I say, my intentions are sincere. I want to share my experiences with others openly and honestly in hopes that I make a positive difference in even just one life. You may not agree with everything I share here, but my words are meant to be constructive and shared in love.
I want all women who are reading this to know....I have been where you are. I have shared the same anxiousness, confusion and questions that you are dealing with. I have dated my share of duds. I have been single. Dumped. Cheated on. Broken-hearted. Confused. Vulnerable. Abused. And in every possible way, I've been wronged. We're not so different, you and I. I can relate to feeling like there are absolutely no good guys left out there. I know how it feels to be let down - in some way or another - by every guy that comes into your life.
Jared and I did not start dating seriously until we were both 24. Before that time, my dating experiences were less than pleasant. And I get asked all the time, how did you know it was love? I am fortunate enough that I can pinpoint the exact moment in time when I realized Jared was the man I would share the rest of my life with. But there were many moments leading up to then that also shaped that decision. Afterall, love is exactly that...a decision...a choice. Once love is forced it is not love anymore. With all of the guys I dated, I was trying to force the relationship to be something it wasn't. I was so in love with the idea of being in love that I lost sight of what love really was and how love was meant to be given and received.
There are so many differences between Jared and all the rest of the guys I dated...but the major difference is, he respects me. He was willing to be just my friend (without benefits) and he cared so much about me that he always had my best intentions in mind, not selfish intentions like every other guy. He showed me that true love is much deeper than anything we could ever physically give to each other. And if we are completely honest with ourselves, what we all want is someone to love our heart...love us for who we are not what we can give them. I always knew what I didn't want. The guys I was dating were a big "help" in discovering what I did NOT want. Jared was the one who showed me what I needed.
I've said this before and I'll say it again...anyone who doesn't think twice about being physical with you before the commitment of marriage does not have your best interest in mind. If a relationship is based on physical or emotional gain then the intentions are not pure, they are not noble and the love is not authentic. This is not to say that authentic love can't still be achieved after you have become physically intimate, but it is much more difficult because physical intimacy tends to cloud our judgment. I look back at my past relationships and realize it was all about physical gain for the guys I dated. I was nothing more than a collection of body parts, a conquest, a temporary goal. They did not see me for what I truly am which is a valuable woman worthy to be treasured. And I was guilty of compromising myself for emotional gain. I thought being physically intimate proved deepness and devotion. Both approaches were unhealthy and neither of us were experiencing authentic love.
I think we as women want so desperately to be loved that our desperation makes us do things that we really don't want to do. We compromise ourselves for the sake of false love. Truth is, we are worth so much more than temporary pleasures and empty promises. But we teach guys how to treat us. We must show them we are valuable beyond physical measures. A real man knows your worth and wants to treasure you. Don't cheat yourself by settling for second best. Don't sell yourself short for someone who refuses to pay full price. You are not on sale...you are priceless. Never forget that. Embrace it.
And please remember that being single is not a curse. Singleness can be God's way of using you to do His great work INDIVIDUALLY. There are many women in history who were single and are remembered for doing extraordinary things. Don't place your worth in someone else. Establish your own dreams and goals and accomplishments according to God's plan for you personally and then when God's pick comes into your life...you will be able to share all of those things with him. For now, enjoy the life you have been given.
Hope this was helpful and encouraging.