If you look up the word void, the simplest definition will say something to the extent of “filling an empty space.” When he told me that he felt as though I was using him to fill a void, I didn’t quite know how to take it. The he in this instance was a guy I had been dating for a short time. Having already known each other, we had dove in pretty fast by most accounts. The “I love you’s” were flying, and talks of the future had already filled the air. The void conversation arose after a big fallout in which he admitted that I just expected too much of him. He didn’t understand why it was so important for me to include other people in things. “Other people” being my family and my friends. The “things” being events and holiday parties. Things that to me seemed something normal to share with someone you loved or cared about. Things that seemed normal of an adult relationship. Things that have continued to be tumbling bricks in future relationships.
To give you a brief history in relation to this idea, I’m in my early thirties, and have only twice in my life had a significant other significant enough to celebrate the holidays or any sort of big occasion with. I’m more of a “test the waters” for a few months, and if it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work. Why waste either of our time? I’m looking for a forever, not a sometimes. In my late 20’s I had a serious boyfriend who I celebrated two turkey days and two Christmas’s with. He was a good guy, just not “the guy.” His name is still on one of our family Christmas ornaments (thanks Mom!) After the ornament guy, and the one of current conversation, there came the next Mr. Significant, the guy that I just knew was “the one,” and have still held on to quite significantly in some ways over the last year (but that’s another story for another day.) Back to where we started with fall out boy.
The idea that I needed to fill a void was almost insulting to me. I wasn’t empty or without in my life when it came to happiness, or support, or love. I had that all around me. I was used to being the single girl at the party. But, as my twin sister put it, “We are all looking to fill a void. That’s what any relationship is.” The more I wrapped my head around that, the more I figured the theory to be true. Obviously when we start a relationship, there is something that was lacking there to begin with. Not necessarily that I was empty, but, rather that I wanted someone to share the space with, so to speak. But here’s the thing that it took me awhile to understand, if the person you want to spend your time, your efforts, your life with, only sees themselves as a “void filler,” then you need to let them go. If that empty space you are filling still feels empty through the hard times, they are not the filling you are missing. Your space needs the walls that help hold you together, not the decorations that you want to change every couple years. If they are the pretty painting that smudges and runs when things get too heated, they are not your filling or your foundation.
The hardest thing sometimes is accepting that bad filling is just that, bad filling. Sometimes in desperation I find myself getting lost in just finding something that I overlook or dismiss the bad taste it leaves. When you start looking at everyone else’s spaces from the outside, it seems so much more filled in than yours. You start to question why your house is empty and they’ve got the swing set and pool in the backyard. The statements, “Your time is coming,” “Timing is everything,” “Be patient,” start to taste just as bitter as the bad filling. And you just get downright sick of it. You’re done. You cry to God.
And I cried to God. And I cried, and cried, and cried.
And then, I felt ashamed, because, although I’m a Christian, and a believer, I hadn’t talked to God in any fashion that much in a long time. Some guy had to “break my heart” in order for me to run to Him? It hit me that I had been neglecting my one true filler while trying to fill a void in my life. My house may lack the swing set and the pool, but, the firm foundation has always been there.
Maybe filling the void isn’t searching for a man. It’s searching and reconnecting with THE man.
I’m not saying that it’s not important to have relationships. My ultimate goal in life is to be a wife and a mother. But, if on the road to becoming these things we have to take the path that isn’t lit, that doesn’t keep Him close beside us, then it’s not the right road. Not the right person. Not the right choice. And we always have a choice. I’ve had a shadow box hanging on my bedroom wall for years. Inside, covered with floral and sparkles, are the words from one of my favorite songs; and perfectly fitting to what I expect in a future husband:
“A man of his word
Man who loves God
Someone who knows love can’t be bought.”
The guy I introduced you to in the opening was none of those things. I already knew from our history that he was not a man of his word. But, maybe he had changed, I told myself. I prayed to God often over those years when we had disconnected from each other to give me some form of closure. And then He sent him back. So, surely he had changed, right? Clearly, he was like an angel sent down from God himself. He was ready now. Five years changes a person, right? Wrong. I’m not saying a person cannot change, and many do. But, let me tell you, it has to be a choice they make on their own. You cannot force a person to change; it turns into resentment, and the perfect grenade for arguments down the road. And, although his arms were decorated with biblical tattoos, I never really knew if he truly was a man of God. We never discussed it. I often told him that he was included in my prayers, but, it was never much further than that. I’m not saying he wasn’t a man of God, but, by my definition, if I had to question it, he probably wasn’t MY man of God.
Unfortunately, if we allow it, desperation can become a blinding tool. I was so caught up in trying to catch up with everyone else. Trying to jump start that wife and mom stuff, that I started overlooking the bitter tastes. If I was fed something that tasted ugly, or stung bad, I covered it up with a little sugar, and all was well. And the sugar I’m talking about was nothing but a pretty way of saying that I covered it with excuses.
And again, I cried, and cried, and cried to God. I begged Him to just make this guy come around. Make him want to stay. Make him be THE guy. Maybe with enough sugar, it could be bearable, right? I questioned and argued with Him through the tears every night. Why would you send him back? Why would you put me through this again? And then it was clear.
Not the closure I expected when I said those prayers, but, the closure He knew I needed. The closure it took to close the door off completely. This guy walked away again because God intended him to, He intended to remove him for good. And though I was hurting, it was for my protection.
Take note, I wish no ill upon him. I’m thankful for cherished moments, and lots of laughter. But, he is a closed door. He’s the painting that runs with the heat.
So what now? I found myself at another stand still moment. I felt discouraged again, like my time was never coming. Like I was stuck.
I heard this sermon recently about how often it is that we focus on the problem rather than the promise. I was asked, do you trust God in everything? No matter how big or how small? We can’t half trust God. It’s not a sometimes thing. Why am I constantly searching and expecting a forever relationship with a man on this earth if I cannot commit to fully trusting God in all of my situations. To giving him a forever and always rather than a sometimes when it’s convenient for me? How can I expect the sweet, sweet taste of a fulfilled life if I’m not allowing it to be fed on a constant basis?
Psalm 34:8 states, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
“Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Not blessed is the one who takes refuge in him when times are tough and you’ve tried out every other option. Up to this point it was as if I was only choosing to eat from the Jesus buffet when all the other tables were empty. I was letting him be the medicine to fix me when the tough and bitter made me sick. He had become my back up rather than my go-to. And I was starting to feel the effect.
There comes a time when you have to really stand back and take a look at the common denominator in the problems in your life. When you look up only to see your reflection, it’s a painful sight to see. That’s where I was standing, face to face with myself. A me that felt much heavier from all the weight I had added on by taking in the constant splash of sugar added to every bad situation. I was feeding myself the lie of the enemy on a daily basis. My daily intake of “you don’t deserve better,” “he will change,” “this is the best you can do,” “what if the things you want never happen,” had become my everyday meals. And I was a pitiful sight.
I was pitiful, but still alive and still breathing. It was time for me to get to know the girl in the mirror again….