It was today, one year ago, that I put my engagement ring back in its box and handed it to my fiancé.
Bittersweet moment, then. Bittersweet memory, today.
It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t something I wanted and contrary to what many seemed to feel at the time, it hurt me deeply to do.
It wasn’t a day-of decision to leave. It was a decision my soul felt tormented over. It was a decision that I knew would bring about much change in the form of loss, and it was a decision I had to make knowing most people would not understand.
We had started to build a life together, and we had our future pretty planned out. We led a ministry together, we led a worship team together. We were embedded in each other’s lives in what felt like an inseparable way.
But the anxiety that suddenly surfaced in me prior to our engagement became severe, and it would not be dismissed.
While anxiety is something we typically fight to eradicate from within ourselves, we often get so caught up in trying to dismiss the feeling that we fail to recognize it may be a red flag that something isn’t right in or around us. Think of it this way - if you are standing on the edge of a 10,000 foot tall building, and you’re feeling anxious, your anxiety is valid. You should be nervous. Why? Because that situation is a literal threat to your life. You’re not meant to be there.
For months, I dismissed this anxiety as irrational fear within me. As time went on, I began to recognize that this wasn’t something I needed to dismiss; this was telling me something wasn’t right. My soul was in turmoil, and my body’s response was evidence of that.
This was not a healthy relationship. My spirit was standing at the top of a 10,000 foot tall building, and it had spent the last year climbing stairs to get there despite the red flags along the way. I had myself convinced that the only way down was to jump into this marriage and hope for the best. But God, in all His goodness, brought me to my knees, literally, and let my heart know there was another way.
While I could write pages that hold the details of that year with him, and the journey to ending the relationship, I will just say this: one year ago today, God started me on the journey of walking back down those stairs.
The decision to turn around cost me. There was loss, and much pain. I handed over far more than the ring the day I left. Everything about my life changed in the process of healing, yet, under it all, there was peace; my soul was no longer standing on the edge of somewhere I shouldn’t have been.
And today, one year later, I am still making my way down to the bottom in some ways.
This year has been a testament to God’s unfailing faithfulness. Everything I had to let go of, God has restored, abundantly, in ways I wouldn’t have even thought to ask for.
In thinking through all of this over the past few weeks, I was reminded of Joshua 4 when Joshua lead the people across the Jordan River. The Lord caused the river to dry up so that they could cross over. I imagine this is something they did not consider an option, not even something they would know to ask God to do.
The passage goes on to tell us that Joshua had one man from each tribe carry a stone on his shoulders as they crossed, and he later used them to build a memorial in the river bed. He did this so “…that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
In other words, these stones in the river bed would be a reminder of what God did to make a way for His people where there seemed to be no way.
It is tempting to allow myself to get caught up in the memories, both good and bad, and to dwell on every last emotion those memories would bring with them.
But instead, today, I am picking up the stone of June 4th, and placing it in the river bed of my heart.
And I can't help but hope he does the same.