I Say Goodbye And You Say Hello – Dating, Letting Go, And The Messyness In Between

28 Nov

I sat there on that beach all alone, no one watching except for God.  I cried out and let myself breathe for the first time in weeks. Tears came streaming out of my eyes, my nose was running everywhere. I knew that it was finally time to let go. It had almost been a year. I’d held on too long. I’d told everyone I knew about cutting soul ties and how essential it was to the grieving process and yet here I was, still holding on to a ghost of a relationship. A “what could have been.” A “why didn’t it work?” A “but if only I didn’t do this.” And the more realistic thoughts followed: “Well we did fight a lot” and “I did spend a lot of time trying really hard to make it work.” Reality set in. It didn’t work. It hadn’t worked. He didn’t come back no matter how hard I prayed and maybe deep down I knew he wasn’t supposed to. And so, here I was, by myself on this beach a year later. I was okay. I really was okay. I’d made it through the worst thanks to God and the support of my family and friends. I’d grieved. I’d had a lot of conversations with people who loved me well through my sadness. I’d taken leaps forward and steps back. I’d survived awkward encounters and messy interactions. Our mutual community had loved us well as individuals despite it all. I’d respected him. I’d loved him from a distance. I’d acted out of what I knew to be true, not just my feelings about the situation and it served me well. And now I needed to say goodbye for once and for all.

I didn’t want to let go of my ghost, but it had become a safety net. Less scary than facing the unknown or letting some stranger I didn’t know into my heart just to wonder if it would happen all over again. 

Sometimes dating makes you feel like this. Everyone else has it all figured out and is enjoying themselves while you're standing in the shadows.


But here’s the thing about dating and I say this a lot. It’s risky. RISKY. Sometimes you just don’t know. You’re not sure if it’s going to end. You’re not sure even as it’s beginning. Somehow, some way, it just starts happening. It’s like a roller coaster. You don’t know where you’re at or where he or she is at. Some moments you’re floating on air and the next you feel like you’re going to throw up.

When you get to that point to where it’s time to have a conversation about your feelings, you’re afraid you could ruin everything. But that’s where the trust comes in. That’s when it’s time to realize that this “relationship” or whatever it is isn’t totally up to you. Yes, you can do your part and be open. You can be vulnerable and flirty and fun. You can give it a chance. You can enjoy the ride. But at some point, just as in the grieving process when I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed help, I realized that too about dating.

Dating is a risk because there are no guarantees.

We like to create our little safe havens complete with security blankets and we hold on to the illusion that we are in control of our dating lives. We think that if someone says the right thing or does something in the exact way that we hope that somehow that will make the stars align and everything will work out just the way we want it to.  The reality is, we are in control of our own feelings and actions but that still may not equal a relationship working out the way we’d hoped. We can do everything “right” and it still may not work. All the good physical boundaries in the world can’t solve a relationship problem when the relationship just isn’t working.

So what then? My answer? Simply this: Let go. What? LET GO. It’s not up to us. It’s up to the loving and all-powerful, all-knowing God who created us and knows our stories better than we know ourselves. He can soothe our anxieties. He will calm our fears. When we don’t know what to do, we can look to God and he will help us remember to breathe again.

Dating can also feel like a balancing act. Kind of like this.

(Now a side note. I don’t want to come off sounding like a bitter woman who looks at dating as if we’re walking on mouse traps about to get set off if we take one wrong step. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying it’s going to take courage to put yourself out there. It’s going to take you trusting God in the tricky spots when you don’t feel like it. It’s going to take getting out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to realize that without the risk, you’ll be sitting home for a lot more Saturday nights wondering why you’re alone. I’m not saying that we’re all in charge of our own dating destinies, but in a way, I suppose I am. Are you putting yourself out there with people you don’t know? What about with people you do know who you may not have considered before now? Have you just written everyone off and become bitter? Nothing makes me more sad in the context of dating in community when someone has just given up and resigned that no one will ask them out or that no one will say yes and they just stop trying. That’s sad. What if you start to see yourself differently than that? What would that look like? Sidenote over)

So there I was. On the beach. Crying my eyes out. Knowing I had to let go but not really knowing how. And that’s when I started to write a letter to the guy I had dated. Well, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t just to him. It was to all the guys I dated who I’d never taken the time or who I had been to scared to let go of. Now I’d written the anger letter (never sent it). I wrote the sad letter (didn’t send that either). It was time for the goodbye letter that I’d written ten times without finishing. The one that I was afraid to think about because I knew it would mean that I would have to say goodbye for once and for all. But I knew I was ready. I wrote my letter. I cried a lot during it. I prayed, too. I asked God to take away the soul tie and break it. That didn’t mean that I would forget. I asked for forgiveness in the letter. I also forgave him for the ways in which he’d hurt me. Then I pictured myself reading him the letter. I addressed him. I talked to him during the reading of the letter. I cried. I told him why I had to let go and I told him how unbelievably sad I was that it hadn’t worked out between us. I even said something my very profound friend had mentioned to me when I was cleaning my room out to repaint it. I said, “I need to create space in my heart for something good to come into my life. I have to let you go to create that space.” It was the scariest thing I had done on the entire journey. Creating space for something good to come along. Trusting that there would be something else. Something better. I was trusting that God had something better for me than a life spent wandering in the desert for any longer.

Taken just days before a relationship I was in ended in 2005. Oh how glad I am now! And yet this picture, despite the meaning it used to have to me, actually reminds me of how God delivered me from that situation into others. Now I know He will do it again! He never lets go...

So here I am. Trusting again. That God is good. That he has something better for my future. Knowing that dating is risky, I still embark upon the journey. Because those sweet moments when you connect with someone through a look or have a new and unexpected adventure or learn to let someone into your heart again are worth it. Dating is worth it. It might be risky but it’s awfully fun and who knows who you’ll meet along the way? 🙂

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