Do you remember your high school relationships? Were you the type who dated around? Or were you the type who watched from the sidelines?

It doesn’t really matter which way you viewed dating in high school, we all learned things about relationships in high school.

Maybe your friendships were affected. Maybe you made good decisions, maybe you didn’t.

I know that in high school, I dove in to dating right away. I know for certain that a lot of the decisions I made were not thought through. I remember attracting some pretty questionable people.

And making some others pretty angry just by being me. I always had the confidence that I could handle myself, and I always did.

I wasn’t a Christian at this point in my life, and looking back, I am saddened by some of the decisions I made.

I had one boyfriend who thought it would be fun to hit me in front of his friends. He didn’t last long.

I had one who always needed another girl on the side. He lasted far longer than he should have.

My first serious boyfriend seemed so grown up. I was in high school and he was in college. He knew what he wanted from life and what he needed to do to get there. And he treated me really well. We dated for a year and half before moving in together. I didn’t want to lose him while he was at school, so I went with him. This is where I noticed that he wasn’t as grown up as he appeared to be. And it was my first introduction to what a relationship was like with a mentally unstable partner.

I remember having to go to his mother when it became clear to me that this wasn’t going to work. I needed to let her know that he was struggling and that they would need to have someone with him after I broke things off. And I was only 18.

I took me a long time to date again after that.

And my next relationship was a bit of a train wreck. We dated on and off for about a year before we decided to buy a house together. Surely a house would make us more stable as a couple. Goodness, what was I thinking?!?

We bought our house and became common-law spouses. As hard as we tried, the house, joint account and ring I wore weren’t enough to save our relationship.

In the end, after a lot of damage was incurred by us both, we decided to go our separate ways. And it shattered me.

He seemingly went on with his life, spending time with friends and dating.

I spent a lot of time beating myself up. Wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t make this work. What good was I if I couldn’t make it work? Who would ever want me?

It took me almost 2 years to put myself back together again.

And just when I did, he came back. He asked if we could maybe give it another go. I laughed.

I never knew that would be one of my heaviest bags. That I laughed.

I wish I’d known then that those were the last words I’d ever say to him. I don’t know what I’d change, but I wish I had been gentler.

You see, he suffered from depression. And a while after that, he lost his battle. That day, when his Dad came to tell me, I shattered all over again.

I hadn’t spoken to him in almost 2 years. I hadn’t really talked to him for 2 years before that even.

To this day, it still brings tears to my eyes.

I spent almost 10 years carrying the weight of his decision. And I had to learn to unpack that bag. I had to relinquish his right to make that decision back to him. I needed to truly know that I didn’t force him to do what he did.

I needed to stop letting other people take the pain of losing him out on me. I spent 10 years letting some of the people close to him blame me for what happened. They aimed their pain at me and just kept on firing. But I didn’t have to let them.

I could choose to put up boundaries and enforce them.

I could choose to forgive him for what he did. And that was hard.

I could choose to remember the good times. The good things about him.

Friends, it is so hard to unpack these bags. And even once we think we’ve done it, we may still find parts we have to sort through again. Especially if they are like my story.

At the end of the day, you have to know that it is just a part of your story. It isn’t the climax of the book. It’s really just part of the character building. The details that give you the background for the story.

I don’t know what chapter you are on right now. And I don’t know where you story has already taken you. But I do know that you can choose which chapters get to define you versus which ones just set up the story.

I pray that today, you unpack one of your heaviest bags. You put down the guilt and blame. You forgive yourself. You count the lessons learned as victories. And you refuse to pick up those bags again.

I would love to lift you up in prayer today. Leave me a comment and I will add you to my list. 💕

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