My fiancé Jason realized this before I did. He told me I wasn't allowed to use the word ruin anymore, that it wasn't helpful, that I didn't know how to use it correctly. He says that someday I will get my privileges back, but not for a long while.
About a year ago, I began to feel this deep fear about Jason - that I had ruined everything with him forever. We had been good friends in college. He was in love with me the whole time. I was not in love with him the whole time. And I didn't know that he was actually in love with me. He was. Then he asked me out about 6 years ago. I said no forever. But he didn't tell me he actually loved me. How was I supposed to know?
But then, last March, I rediscovered a letter he had written to me after we both graduated from Muhlenberg College. It was the best letter I've ever read. I remembered thinking so back in 2009 when I first read it. But I had forgotten about it in the meantime. Nothing had ever happened. He never asked me out or anything. Well, not until 2011, that is. And that was a long time after the first time I read this letter.
This letter was like a love letter in which he told me he loved me in every way possible without ever really coming out and saying it. And it was just what I needed to hear last March. I needed to know that someone saw me, not just as someone who ruined everything forever, but as someone intentionally created by God.
It's like he took out all of the bad things about me and only left the good things. And that's how he described me in this letter. And that's how he saw me. He saw the core of how God made me and called it very good. Like how I dance whenever possible. Jason saw that about me and said it was good, instead of silly. And I needed to hear those good things, because I usually only see the bad things. Like me ruining everything forever.
And so as I reread this letter one year ago, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I couldn't help but think to myself, "I think he still loves me. I think he loved me the whole time. I think this relationship might be worth a try." But within the same thought, my fear crept in..."But it's probably too late. I think I've probably ruined everything forever. I think even if I apologized now, he would say he's already moved on, that he's not in love with me anymore."
So I began to feel like my life was actually an Adele song. Each time I got in my car, I would play Hello, belt it out, and cry. I would always cry hardest at the part where she says,
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore
And I imagined myself trying to tell Jason how sorry I was and that I was stupid for not realizing how much he loved me sooner and saying that I wanted to try to make things work with us. But in my imaginings, he would always just turn me away. And that's why I would cry. I didn't want to have ruined everything. I didn't want him to stop loving me.
So that's what I told him. After I apologized for telling him no forever. And after he told me he couldn't be my friend without having feelings for me. I said I didn't want him to not have feelings for me. Then he reminded me that when I told him no forever I asked him to try to stop having feelings for me. I told him that's because I was an idiot.
He never stopped loving me though. I might have told him to stop. But he didn't. And I was afraid that I had ruined everything forever. But I really hadn't. It wasn't too late to apologize. One Republic was wrong. My apology mattered. It moved our story forward so that we could become friends again. And then Jason could finally admit he always thought we were like Ross and Rachel. It's like everyone else knew that we were supposed to be together, but we just couldn't seem to figure out how to make that happen. But then we did.
So it really wasn't too late to apologize. Justin Bieber's fears could be put to rest. And my life stopped being an Adele song. I actually told Jason about how I thought my life mirrored Hello for a while and how I thought all of this business about our relationship didn't tear him apart anymore. He told me I was wrong. He had been torn apart. So much so that he failed 2 classes in seminary when he thought he'd lost me forever and couldn't even listen to Hello or the entire album for that matter. He knew I loved Adele and thought it would be too much for him to handle, because there's no way he could listen to it and not think about me. After he told me that, we listened to 25 together. I thought that was important.
But even if Jason had moved on and the apology came too late for us to be together, it still wouldn't have meant that everything was ruined. And it still would have been right for me to apologize. Because when it looks like everything is ruined, it's not. It just means the story isn't done yet. It just means you're in the middle. And the middle has a whole lot of ups and downs and twists and turns. And they're really painful. But that's what makes the story. Without them, there would be no story at all. It would just be a series of boring events, leading nowhere. And who wants a life like that?
So the important thing that I have been learning is not to confuse a story's negative turns with the ending. Jason and Donald Miller have been helping me with that. Because any good storyteller knows that the ending must be glorious. I can make intentional choices to make my story go better. And I might make bad choices, even accidentally. But that never means everything is ruined. I can still keep moving forward, one thing at a time. And eventually those all add up. Plus some things just happen that I don't have any control over - both good and bad. That's just part of how any story happens. And somehow God just weaves all of those things together to make something beautiful. And I trust God. I think that He's a good storyteller. So that must mean whatever ending is ahead must be glorious.