We have a confession to make. A big one. One that might knock the socks off some of our Facebook friends and even our close family members. A confession that might absolutely SHOCK some people and keep them tossing and turning at night wondering how it could possibly be true. A little truth pill that might be hard to swallow. I know it was for us! Our confession is this: Our relationship isn’t some fantasy fairytale that many people think “true love” should be. It’s actually really, really hard sometimes. And that’s why we’re ending something that should have been ended a long time ago…

We’re saying goodbye to our sole commitment to each other and turning our sights to something a lot more important. And that’s our relationship with and our focus on God.

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If I had one good piece of marriage advice for every time I talked about how badly I wanted to get married, I would be a marriage encyclopedia. That’s obviously not the case, but I HAVE been learning a lot through watching other people’s marriages and learning from their mistakes. That sounds terrible!! But it’s true. I wish people could learn from our mistakes and we’re not even married! One of the greatest lessons we’ve been learning this year is the power and importance of love and respect (thanks to an amazing book called just that!) and the absolute necessity to lay our relationship at God’s feet. There are so many things we can’t handle on our own. Things like self control, protecting our hearts, loving each other unconditionally and with grace, and planning for a future full of unknowns – all things that would be near impossible without our faith. I try to imagine our lives not knowing God and it scares me. Our faith is our rock, a solid foundation to build upon so that if and when we do get married, our house and our love will stand through whatever storms come our way. Because our love isn’t from ourselves. I know MY kind of love would probably be horribly selfish and proud and only focused on me and what I want. But thank God that it’s not my kind of love I’ve been called to show to Justin, but a love that I’m only a vessel for – the true kind of unconditional love that Jesus showed to us. THAT is the kind of love our relationship has to have to survive. And we’ve been failing miserably for too long.

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I bought a couple’s devotional over three years (3 years!!!) ago that we still haven’t gotten past the first page in. It’s not that this devotional is that much about our Christianity. Its focus is on knowing what true love is and learning to show that to each other. As Justin’s girlfriend, my role is NOT to control him, direct his life, and have him do what I would want him to do (I’m crying a little inside as I type out that HARD truth). My job as his girlfriend is to continue to encourage him to pursue Christ. And his job as my boyfriend is to do the same for me. If we EVER get to the point where that’s been forgotten, I pray that God would make it clear to us that we’re not meant to be together right now and that He would grant us the stregnth and courage to walk away. Because at the end of the day, what scares me more than losing Justin is losing sight of God. That thought just absolutely terrifies me. It’s something I would regret literally forever.

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This summer was a season full of feeling a lot like I was drowning. More on THAT story later (and by later I mean my next Mantra Monday post). I felt so much hopelessness and just so lost that I think I was starting to make Justin feel lost, too. And that breaks my heart more than anything. I write this with tears in my eyes because the only thing worse than knowing I have lost sight of God is knowing I have caused someone else to lose sight of him, too. My mistakes and my sin could be such a stumbling block for others, and if that’s not a motivator to get my shit together, I don’t know what is. Finding the balance between setting a high standard for myself and knowing I’m going to mess up and accept God’s grace has been one of life’s hardest battles. But I’d rather have high expectations for myself than set the bar too low and never reach my full potential. My expectation for myself right now is to start taking God’s voice a little more seriously- he’s given me SO much (forreal so, so much I could never have gotten on my own and in my own power) that I owe it to Him to start paying attention to what He’s asked of me and of us as a couple. And I know the first step is gettin’ serious about that devotional. If I think I love him now… I can’t imagine where we will be after really asking ourselves some hard questions and learning how to fix all the mistakes we’ve been making these past four and a half years.

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There is a quote by C.S. Lewis that reads, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I don’t want to be deaf. I want to hear God loudly in the every day in’s and out’s of my routines. I don’t want it to take a tragedy to pay attention to Him and remember that He exists and wants to lead us. Although there’s something deeply beautiful about the love and comfort we feel in the midst of our pain, I don’t want that to be the only time I feel close to God. I don’t want that to be the only time that WE acknowledge that He is Lord and that we live to serve Him. God invented marriage so that man and woman could conquer the darkness of the world together as a team. If we lose sight of that, there is no higher purpose in our being together- just a shallow fulfillment of our own human desires. And that’s when we feel the farthest from our relationship being a fairytale. At that point it’s just surface level give and take and we’re rolling like a tumbleweed down the highway of life… blown wherever the wind cares to take us. We NEED a compass. We NEED a sense of direction and purpose to truly feel fulfilled and happy in our being together. Jesus is the only source of true joy. It’s something you can’t know until you just know. Until you’ve experienced firsthand the amazing things that God can do when you hand over the reins and give up control. Justin is my best friend, and I think he’s my soulmate. But it’s a daily prayer for God to continue to show me how to be a better friend, and better girlfriend, and eventually a better wife… and to reveal to me how and with whom I am meant to serve Him for the rest of my life. Our commitment isn’t first and foremost to each other. It’s to the God of the universe and the Creator from whom true love flows. Where true joy is found. And I can’t wait to be writing in 1, 3, 5, 10 years how God revealed that to me and what’s come of my willingness to follow wherever He may lead me. But for now I will continue to pray for strength, for an ability to love Justin and everyone in my life with a godly love that’s slow to anger, quick to forgive, and, because I’m human, ready to admit my mistakes. I hope that I can show God’s grace even in my worst moments. And I pray that our love only continues to grow if it is rooted in Jesus and in Him alone.

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Photo credit: Meredith Sledge Photography

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