In the seminar, they spoke of watching out for 'Red Flags' in your relationship. They asked some tough questions, such as: (taken from notes)
Why are you dating?
Do you need to have a partner?
Does dating this person give you identity?
Does this person validate your worth?
Are you dating to feel complete? (You are NOT half of a person before marriage.)
Are you dating to fulfill your emotional needs? To be wanted?
What has been the FRUIT of your courtship so far?
Are you in love with the IDEA of marriage?
And, the kicker:
Don't get married now if you have a large TO-DO list...
I remember vividly how Chris leaned over my notebook after that last point and drew a picture of a flag next to the notes I'd been taking. When I saw what he had drawn there, my heart jumped into my throat and my stomach dropped to the floor. I knew that things wouldn't ever be the same after that, and I felt dizzy.
Photo at Right: Notes from the seminar, and the flag doodle heard 'round the world.
By the end of the seminar, there were so many flags waving in our faces that we thought the whole world had gone red.
We stumbled out of the building after the class and drove back to my house together. We were both very quiet in the car. When we got to my house, we sat down and looked at eachother. I was on the couch, he was sitting on the floor. After a minute or two of silence, we started to talk. About the flags. About our relationship. About the state of our hearts.
Less than an hour later, we'd come to a conclusion.
I slipped the ring off of my finger, and said goodbye to the man I'd loved for four years.
We were through.
After Chris left my house that day, I felt a strange calm. Like the way the air gets so still right before a storm. Like drifting in a dream. I was in shock. In one afternoon, I'd gone from being an engaged woman who was planning her wedding, to a single woman who now shared a very small town with her ex-fiance. My head was spinning. I made my way over to my bed, collapsed down on it, and fell asleep.
We had both agreed it was for the best. I didn't know if Chris would move back to Reno or stay in San Luis Obispo. After all, he'd only moved there two weeks earlier! He knew no one but the friends that I'd introduced him to. I felt a small sense of relief that I was no longer engaged, but an immense void of despair for losing Chris so completely. The calm that I had felt after Chris and I broke off our engagement lasted only a day or two. But then the floodgates ripped open, and I was suddenly overcome by grief.
Photo at Left: When the going gets tough, dye your hair!
I tried to put on a happy face and pretend that I was really OK with everything, but inside I felt like I was decaying, like I was rotting away. When I saw Chris again, he seemed so... so... HAPPY. Like he'd never been so happy in all his life. He hugged me, asked me how I was doing with a huge smile on his face, and told me about ALLLLLL THE WONDERFUL THINGS that God was doing in his life since we'd broken off our engagement. It had only been a few days.
I could have punched him in the face.
I started to blame God again, started to take my rage out on Him. I told Him that He had done nothing but make me miserable in life, and that He could now consider us enemies...
The second that I had heard Chris talking about how great God was, and how joyful God was making him after we broke up, I felt sick to my stomach. I didn't want to have anything to do with a God who would make me go through all of this pain, while making Chris so infinitely happy.
Chris kept saying he just wanted me to be happy too, but all I could think of was wanting him to be miserable. I was a wreck. Terrible company. Soaking and marinating in my anger and bitterness. My poor room mates bore the brunt of a lot of this, but they were patient and loving and listened to me vent over and over and over again. They prayed for me and encouraged me. But I was completely shut off to anything but my anger.
So, you can imagine how I felt when, a month after we'd broken our engagement, another girl stepped onto the scene...
**to be continued...**