He was bad and that’s about the best description I know how to give. Just bad. And not in that rough exterior, good interior kinda way. Bad.
He pursued me because he’d heard things and I believe that deep down, in his rotten heart, he was drawn to my goodness. I find that funny to say, but I think it’s true. I could be kidding myself, but I do think that I was unlike any girl he’d ever chased after before. Unfortunately, he didn’t have to chase me too hard. During the summer we met, he became friends with my ex-boyfriend. So, naturally, giving in to him felt like a bit of sweet revenge. I’d let the ex see me with him and the goal was to make him feel jealously and pain. Never go looking to seek revenge–it never works in your favor.
In many ways, when I look back on my time with him, it seems like I’m looking back on a movie. It just doesn’t feel like it really happened. This much time removed from it and it no longer feels real. I know it was, but the awfulness of it and the darkness that relationship caused are such a stark contrast from the rest of my life.
He said all the right things, pretended to be enamored with me, but it was all a game. A very well played game. I was unaware, but I became sucked into his life of badness. What’s weird is that I was never really interested in him. I was flattered by his attention, but I never truly liked him. I knew he was never someone with which I would have a lasting relationship.
He was two years older than me and so when I was a junior in high school, he was a freshman in college. I always had to be the one to go see him. I distinctly remember one night driving to his college and dreading it. I didn’t want to see him or be near him. He made my skin crawl. He was lazy, had a stupid bowl haircut, used drugs, talked like a stoned out loser all the time (heeeeeyyy, man), and was incapable of any kind of conversation that didn’t involve sex, drugs, or the Beastie Boys. God help me, I used to hate their songs because I connected them with him. If you tried to pick out the worst possible match for me, it would be him. Hands down. Worst possible match.
I honestly don’t know why I stayed with him. I think in many ways I was scared. Scared to be alone. Scared to leave because he told me he’d kill anybody else I’d ever try to date if I left. To prove this point, he even showed up one time to my house with a gun. Not to mention, my self-esteem had plummeted because of my previous boyfriend. I was lost. Deep down I wanted no part of him, but I was lost.
I remember going there that night. I didn’t want to, but I did. When I arrived, he came outside with two of his football teammates and told me to get in the back of my own car. I hated him for telling me what to do. It was my car. What right did he have? Yet, I did it anyway. He drove to a secluded area by a railroad track, parked the car, and pulled out a bag of weed. I wanted no part of it, so I got out of the car and just leaned against the back passenger side door. He and his buddies got out and then the unthinkable happened.
Broken. I was just flat-out broken. Sure, I kept up a good facade to the world, but inside I was broken. All of us have some sort of brokenness. It comes in many different forms. This is a broken world and we all walk around with a lot of brokenness and pain. When others hurt us, many times that hurt turns us into less than better versions of ourselves. So, how do we heal? Well, I give you an example.
In the book The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, there is a particularly unlikable character named, Eustace. He is the embodiment of a spoiled brat. He is a whiner, lazy, completely ungrateful, and works to make everyone’s life miserable. At one point in the book, he ends up on an island and secretly sneaks off to have time away from the other members of the ship. On his walk he comes across a dying dragon and ends up sleeping in the dragon’s lair atop piles of treasure. When he awakes he finds that he has turned into a dragon. Surprisingly, this changes him for the better in many ways, but he still longs to be rid of his new dragon persona. Enter Aslan.
If you know anything about The Chronicles of Narnia, you know that Aslan is a majestic, huge, perfectly wonderful lion. He represents Christ throughout the books. Aslan leads Eustace to a pool of water and encourages him to get in. Eustace does and part of his dragon skin comes off, but he is still a dragon. He repeats the process and pulls off another layer of skin, but still he cannot rid himself of being a dragon. Aslan walks over and tells him that in order to completely change, he must help him. Aslan cuts deep and it’s painful, but he rips off the dragon skin and Eustace is returned to his body. But, he is a changed boy. He is kinder, more helpful, more grateful, and less irritating.
This is how you heal brokenness. After my awful incident with my boyfriend and his buddies, I became a hideous version of myself. I was bitter, angry, hateful in some ways, and impatient with the world. I was mad at God. I lashed out at people. I desperately needed to change. I recognized this, but I didn’t know how to do it. I tried in my own ways to shed this skin of mine–to transform myself. No matter what I did, though, nothing brought healing. I could hear in my soul where to go for healing, but I resisted. Until I could no more.
I finally brought all my brokenness, pain, anger, and bitterness to Christ. It’s like I stuffed it all in large Hefty bags and drug it up to his feet and slung it before Him and said, “Here. Here! I cannot carry all this anymore. I need you to help me. All this crap has made me not who I want to be.”
Jesus whispered to my heart, “I will help you. I will take this and make you new. This will be painful and it will not be enjoyable, but you must trust me.” Trust Him, I did.
Just like Aslan did with Eustace, I surrendered and allowed Christ to do the work only He can do. It took a long time and there is a scar that will always remain in this earthly life. Christ understands our scars, because He bore many Himself. We will be scarred in this life. We will be broken. I see my scars as my cross to bear. I did not ask for it, but if these scars mean that I now have the capacity to love more, forgive better, appreciate more, be more understanding, well then, I will accept it. For you see, it is in our brokenness that God has the ability to make us new. It is in those moments of our lowest points that we stumble, trip, and fall to his feet and say, “I cannot do this without you. Help me.” He always answers the call and restores us. In that moment, we realize that we are not capable of the ability to heal ourselves and we surrender to His almighty power and that power is greater than anything we can muster up. Believe me, this process is not easy. Christ will ask things of you that seem out of line, like forgiving those that wronged you…and that is some hard stuff.
This is not some magic trick where you just be real good and say some prayers. No, no, it is a gut-wrenching, sometimes all out war with yourself, but you have someone there to help you. Christ will not just automatically make you all better. Instead, He will work with you to reveal and show you things that without His help you would never understand. He will lead you through the darkness to light. God delights in taking bad, flipping it on its head, and creating good out of it. It is a mystery and one that we all struggle to understand. But, rest assured, He loves you and He wants to make you new.
“Behold, I make all things new”