Only Human

11:30 AM

i can be your number one
. . .but i'm only human.

Knight in shining armor. "You're every line, you're every word, you're everything." Love of my life. My world. "Rapunzel, you were my new dream." And they lived happily ever after. "Everything has changed." My rock. Found me, saved me. Forever.

Ever notice how love song lyrics and sweet nothings sound eerily like worship? He's all I need -- the center of my world -- "nothing made sense 'til the day I saw your face." (I listened to too much T-Swift as a sixteen-year-old.)

One of the biggest struggles I face as a girlfriend of over a year is how to love my boy with all my heart, soul, and -- wait, that's God's line.

Am I supposed to love my boyfriend with all my heart, soul, and mind? Is he my everything?

Is this obsessive head-over-heels-in-love thing. . .healthy?

Once upon a time, this crazy love between my boy and me found a direct source in God's crazy love for us. It inspired worship and awe that if this young man loved me to the moon and back, think how deep and permanent and insane the love of the moon's Creator must be!

And things went well. We loved each other, we loved Jesus, we grew closer to one another and closer to God.

Then we didn't, because we got wrapped up in each other. I did, at least. I replaced pursuit of God with pursuit of boyfriend, Jesus worship with boyfriend worship. The impetus of praise to God became the source of praise to boyfriend.

I fell in love with a teenage idol. Literally.

We know well the destructiveness of idols in the soul -- distance from God, inability to conquer enemies, first love squelched by human desire. I didn't know how destructive my "obsessive, compulsive, crazy love" was to the man I loved most.

I forgot he was human because of the superhuman, Jesus-fueled, unconditional love with which he loved me. I forgot he was made of flesh and bone. I forgot he was a sinner. I forgot he was a person with feelings and hurts and needs. No, he was something like a divine machine that made me happy, kissed my fears away, comforted me, hung out with me, answered my questions, laughed at my faults. No matter how much I railed at him or tried to break him down or weary him with my grating complaints, my nagging, and my hysterical breakdowns easily solved with self-control and a good night's sleep, he remained strong, intact, impervious.

"I wish you would yell at me," I yelled at him. I wanted him to come down to my level, the level of broken humans.

"What if I don't want to yell at you?" he quietly replied.

See? Non-human. Superhuman. So I treated him like a god, as if he could handle every single thought, feeling, fear, and joy that passed through my heart and out my mouth. As if he could handle my frequent mood swings. As if he could take my accusations and my criticisms without blinking.

Well, he could take them without blinking for a while, and then when he did blink, a tear would slide down his cheek.

By treating him like a god, like an idol, like a superhuman, I debased him to a subhuman level -- a level where he received little affection, help, grace, or love. What's worse? I got angry with him for not meeting my every need, for not answering all my questions, for not being the perfect personality to complement my own fluctuating moods.

But he is only human. He is only human. He cannot process all my needs, even if he wanted to.

i'm only human,
i'm only human,
just a little human.
i'm only human,
and i bleed when i fall down,
i'm only human,
and i crash and i break down.
your words in my head,
knives in my heart. . .

A boyfriend is not your everything. He was not made to possess all your love. He cannot take all your sin on his own shoulders or fix all your problems. When you enter a relationship, you do not enter a zone where suddenly all your hopes, dreams, and answers are realized in one person.

You still need your girlfriends to hear your chatter about random girl things. You still need your mother to give you mature counsel. You still need your pastor and wise mentors to help you with spiritual struggles. You still need a safe place to hash out relationship issues so he doesn't hear you vent about all his perceived or actual faults.

And you still need your God.

When I think back on the year's relationship, I can count on one hand how many times my boy has blatantly sinned against me. (Don't even ask him how many times I've sinned against him. It's overwhelming.) But I can think of numerous times he has accidentally disappointed me because he possesses the natural limitations of a normal man. . .and all the arguments and meltdowns I started over those uncontrollable, natural limitations. "You don't talk to me enough. You didn't say what I wanted to hear in the tone of voice I wanted to hear it. You didn't text me as many times as I wanted. You didn't tone down your personality in front of the person I wanted to impress. You didn't appear like the kind of person I wanted you to be." Silly problems, wicked thoughts. Even the superheroes have their weaknesses. How dare I punish him for being human? For being himself? For not being all the other people listed above? For not being God?

One night I was in intense emotional pain over some spiritual issue. I wanted to call my love, to hear his voice, to beg him to come over and wrap me in his arms. But it was three in the morning. And he was only human. He could not save me from the pain of growth and sanctification. He should not, either. This was my battle, and I did not and could not need him. I'd just end up upset with him for not fixing my weird feelings. I set the phone down, turned my face to the ceiling, and whispered, "Hello, God. It's been a long time since it was just You and me."

Someday, I will be strong for my man and carry his burdens and show unconditional love just like he does. Not in my own strength -- no, certainly not in mine -- but through the power of Christ Jesus who once again reigns as my everything in my heart. I will let go of dehumanizing my boyfriend through my exaltation of him. I will learn to love him as the beautiful human being he is. And I will learn to glorify my Savior for the beautiful divinity He is. It will be hard, and honestly, it seems impossible. It must be and will be through His strength.

Because after all, I'm only human too.

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3 impressions

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your struggle in such a raw, personal way. It was very meaningful to me.

    I have never been in a romantic relationship, but in many ways, this reminds me of what I experienced when God finally answered my prayers and gave me a close friend who lives locally. At the beginning, my appreciation for her immediately turned into worship for God, but as time passed, I got too consumed and invested in the relationship, little things making me miserable as I perceived and treated her as the source of my happiness. It was very difficult for me to find the balance between loving her deeply and putting all my hope and adoration in God, and it has encouraged me to read about your journey, and to see these lessons articulated so well.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your heart -- for allowing others to benefit from your experiences and the wisdom you've been gaining. I've been married 22 years and I am learning from your posts! :)

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  3. Bailey, thank you SO much for being perfectly honest and letting me know that I'm not the only human out here. It really does mean a lot to me.

    And I'm remembering all this for future reference. ;) or even now, with any relationship.

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