“Near the end of my senior year in high school, I was trying to decide if I was going to go on a mission. I had played basketball all through high school and had been offered to play for several different colleges. I also had a girlfriend I had been dating for several years and she was an amazing young woman. I really cared about her and I think I could have married her. “However, after thinking it through, I decided to go on a mission. During my mission, my girlfriend moved on and started dating other people, which at the time seemed fine to me. I was really enjoying my mission and was working hard and so it didn’t seem to really phase me. But once I came home, the longer I was home, the more it bothered me. It became really hard for me to think she wasn’t going to be in my life. And I couldn’t handle seeing her with other people. She eventually got married and a little while ago had her first baby. And that has just about killed me. “What has also been hard is that I have lost my chance to play basketball anywhere. It has just never materialized. And so I am really struggling right now. And I’m really confused. I chose to go on a mission. I sacrificed a lot. I gave up basketball. I gave up her. I worked really hard on my mission. I came home and all the things I thought I would have aren’t here. “I am also struggling in my relationships. The thought of being vulnerable, of trusting someone enough to put my life in their hands just scares me to death. In fact, I literally shake at the fact that someone could possibly have that kind of control in my life. And so I date and date and date and date and never get serious with anyone. I have had so many opportunities to seriously date some really amazing girls, but it’s like I can’t. I just run and say I’m not ready. “And so I am confused what is going on. I wonder if I can really receive the answers I’m looking for. How could I trust myself to receive a clear revelation about continuing to date someone, let alone eventually marrying them when I’ve got all of these issues? And why would He trust me enough to give it to me?” I am grateful this young man shared his experience with me and has also given me permission to share it with you. As we sat and talked through his concerns, we came to some conclusions. And I think there are some crucial principles we discovered that can help you in this stage of your life, as well. This is what I shared with him: “It seems to me that there’s a few things going on here. First of all, somewhere back when you made the decision to go on a mission, you also created an expectation of what you would get in return. You decided what God would give you because of your sacrifice. You created what I call a “recipe” for that part of your life: ‘I’ll go on a mission, I will sacrifice a girl and basketball and whatever else, I will work hard, I will come back, and then I’ll get my girlfriend and basketball and college just the way I wanted.’ “Because of this expectation, this recipe, you are now having a hard time trusting Him. You have some fears. You didn’t get what you wanted. And all of the sudden you now have this belief about Him – that God didn’t really take care of you like He should have. Or that He really doesn’t give us what He promises. Or maybe God doesn’t reward according to righteousness. “And now a lot of the experiences you have in your life are filtering through that belief. And this belief has gotten big enough the longer it has gone, that there’s not a lot of room for your experiences to go through anything else. You are trusting more in the false ideas in your head than the true ones. “But I believe you also formed some false beliefs about yourself and the world around you, about relationships, about trust. You are afraid to give your heart. Afraid to love someone because you might lose them. You are focusing on what you can’t have, or what you lost, instead of what is out there in front of you. “And I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to go into a relationship until you fix them. You can keep hiding and keep running. But God, out of His great mercy and kindness, is going to bring you back to Pihahiroth – to that place on the shore of the Red Sea where there’s no where you can go with your own power. And He’s going to bring you back there as many times as it takes for you to face your fears. “Fears tell us to run. Fears cause us to bury things. And fears can’t be faced and overcome until these false ideas and expectations and beliefs are corrected. You can’t face your fears if you don’t trust God. You can’t trust yourself if you don’t trust God – let alone the world around you and others and girls. You can’t find confidence in revelation because of these fears and false beliefs. “But as you begin to understand why you feel the way you do, why you are doing what you are doing, and how your understanding of God fits into all of this, you will be able to move forward and become free.” Although this young man’s struggle may not be your exact struggle, I started with his story because it could very well be your story. For I’ve heard his story told dozens of different ways but all involving some of the same issues – namely the fears, expectations, and false ideas that influence and hinder our ability to have relationships.
We can see that in this young man’s struggle. There were truths he was missing that were effecting his happiness. Expectations of his God He didn’t even know He had that were skewing his perception and his ability to receive revelation. And false ideas that were taking him off course and effecting his ability to let his heart go to even begin a relationship. Until you begin to gain a better understanding of who you are, what you think, believe, fear, and expect of others, and why you do what you do, it is often very difficult it give yourself to someone else.