Learning to trust God in the area of relationships has been difficult for me. I read books and I observe couples in churches who tell us to trust God for a wonderful spouse who’ll respect and see our worth. But at the back of my mind; I’d think if only they knew where I come from- who’d honestly want to be with someone as me. But I realize that I am no exception, many people in the Church are from broken backgrounds and we all need healing. We might appear strong and seem as if we have it all together, but we are all a work in progress. We should not allow our past mistakes to hold us back. The greatest lesson we can ever learn is that our past does not equal our future; how beautiful is the gift of repentance!
I close my 2017 chapter by sharing how being in what I consider a toxic relationship compelled me to understand the true meaning of “knowing your worth”. We hear that a lot in Churches and inspirational platforms yet still are unable to practice its knowledge. It’s like we are being told to know our worth and are expected to transform immediately upon hearing those words, but it’s going to take more than that. Experience is a great teacher- our failures and infirmities help us greatly. I know I have been dragging the issue of being in a toxic relationship for quite some time now simply because it had such a profound impact in my life. I took time to analyze, cry, blame, get angry, and discover great lessons from the experience. It was one of the defining moments in my life of whether to continue running the race or to simply retire. The wonderful thing about being chosen by God is that your faith depends on Him. If it had depended on us, discouraged by our shortcomings we would have long given up. “He guides us in the paths of righteousness for HIS NAME’S SAKE.”(Psalm23:3).
Little girls need a male figure in their lives to provide them with protection and masculine strength. When that is not provided for they tend to search for it elsewhere most commonly in dating relationships. This was also an issue with me. Living with different kinds of people and in different environments, I never had the privilege of masculine strength or protection. Rather the boys around me saw me as someone they could exploit sexually thus making my relationship perception with males all about sex. However, when Jesus saved me and I got into the Church, I began believing that there is a healthier approach to the opposite sex which I could take. Those early years of salvation I had the greatest privilege of experiencing the pure love of Jesus and His Church, and so I began to trust. This explains why I was able to maintain self-control and discipline with other guys yet became weak when a guy came to me as a pastor preaching the Word of God. I let my guard off because I had the idea that Church leaders, assuming that they fear God and desire to really honor Him, could be trusted. Now, I realize that placing our worth and destiny in the hands of another regardless of their title is extremely dangerous. In His Word, God gives us the tools to really understand the dynamics of life, of people, and of our worth. Women are not insubordinates but by reading God’s Word they come to a realization of their true worth and power. As little girls, scripts from childhood have been handed over to us: that we are weak, we are powerless, and that we need to depend on the same men who are exploiting us and this renders us powerless in an evil world. So as adults we get into relationships and are unable to hold our own, to stand up for ourselves, to say goodbye to anyone who does not meet our standard, and we fear calling out disrespect when we experience it.
In Isaiah 43:4 God says to Israel, “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.” God was speaking to the Israelites but since He is no respecter of persons, and has redeemed us all, we all can view ourselves as honorable and precious in the sight of the Creator. This counteracts every negative script that has been handed over that tries to diminish our worth. Something of honor has great weight, is highly respected, and has great esteem. And Precious? It means that in God’s sight you are of great value, you are not to be wasted or treated carelessly! This knowledge plays a great deal in helping us know our true worth.
When you get into a relationship knowing your worth it does not matter what the other party does or doesn’t do, what matters is what you do with what you know. I entered that relationship fully equipped with the Word of God knowing exactly that my responsibility as His servant is to obey His commandments. However, after fornicating I shifted the blame firstly on the guy for not protecting my purity and then on God for not protecting me since He knew what was going to happen. But God had protected me a long time ago by revealing His Word to me. In Mathew 7: 15-16, Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Isn’t it amazing that regardless of the stern warning we still choose to be deceived by charm, eloquent speech, and physical appearance? If you are a Christian and someone comes to you impersonating a different character than he is, God allows his whiskers to inevitably pop out so that you can take heed and flee, however we still choose to ignore the fruit. Instead of addressing the truth as has been flashed upon us, we dodge it by becoming sexual and claim that it’s love. As a result, by jumping into sex too soon with someone we barely know, we make it extremely hard to leave a relationship that is toxic and filled with drama. Knowing my worth means that I cannot blame the other person for fornicating with him, I have to protect my own purity and obey God for myself; otherwise I’ll go through a repeated series of pain and hurt whilst playing the victim. No one is a victim especially when they have access to the Word of God.
In the novel, The Color Purple, black women are oppressed due to their low economic status. I won’t get much into detail on this but I wish to convey the inspiration all women can draw from Alice Walker, who paints one of her characters Celia, as one who defied the odds and burned down the narratives the world tried handing over to her. She wrote her own narrative. After enduring years of oppression and abuse, she made something beautiful out of her life by writing letters to God and forming meaningful relationship with powerful women around her. This is what happens with real people when they link up with God and form relationships with other women who know their worth- Women who know that they don’t need to compete against each other or fight amongst themselves over men with no character or integrity. Celia also teaches us that even when shamed and disgraced by life’s circumstances, deep down we still possess our inherent worth and can still have beauty out of what’s left of us.
One more thing I would like to share with you is that when we invite Jesus to our chaotic existence, He sends down clarity, peace, strength, and wisdom. We may possess no integrity or strength whatsoever to obey His Word, but when we cry out to Him He sees our cries for mercy and then clothes us with strength and dignity. During the time I was working on myself and analyzing the whole experience in that relationship, I had moments when I went back and forth with the guy through digital communication. It’s like we both still wanted to be together- personally because I believed that our relationship was short-lived and maybe we didn’t allow ourselves to grow in it. I don’t know what his reasons were. He came to my place; I was excited to see him, believing that it was time for us to rectify our mistakes and begin afresh. I thought that like me, he felt remorseful about us fornicating so he wanted to do things the right way this time around. We however started kissing and I could see that he was getting ready for action. But thank God I’m not that naïve gullible girl that he saw the first time, God had clothed me with some strength and dignity. He showed me my worth, I’m not a cheap girl that any person who desires to have sex can just come and lay down with. Just because a guy wants to have sex with me does not mean that he loves me, nor does it make me worthy. Resisting sexual advances from someone I found myself attracted to was just the grace of God that taught me to say no to ungodliness. He has drawn my desires towards holiness not the instant pleasures of the flesh. Why should I lose what I have just because I’m excited that someone wants to have sex with me or because I’m afraid to choose what is right and best for myself? Many times we believe that once we fornicate with a guy it becomes a pattern which is hard to break. We believe that we cannot be free, hence we still cling to our exes and the experiences we had with them. We resist the beautiful plan of God for our lives by repeating the same sins over and over and over again! This is not our lot, nor our portion.
Knowing your worth means knowing really who lives inside of you. The power that raised Jesus from death is really the same power that lives in you! You are not a product of your past or your mistakes, but what God says about you. From Him you can draw strength, purity, wisdom, and self-control. You can grow; you can become new, you can learn from your mistakes and do things differently. Most importantly, you can know that your worth is not tied to anyone but in your relationship with Christ.
“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated.”- Isaiah54:4