Today’s challenge was to write about a time I “screwed” up. As I sat thinking through the times that I have made mistakes, I was drawing a blank. Not because I have never made mistakes, I have made plenty. Like cheating in high school, lying to my parents, breaking things, and etching my name into my mothers favorite end table. Running in the church parking lot, and climbing on things I wasn’t supposed to, which resulted in several concussions and a few dozen stitches. Riding my bike to a store I had been told I was not allowed to go to. Never finishing my school work on time, and the numerous times I down right challenged my mother to spank me. Which thankfully she did.
These would all count as “mistakes”, times I’ve “screwed up.” However, as I have always promised myself I want my tale relating to mean something to my reader, and conveying the above stories in detail don’t seem relevant. Unless for some reason 10 year olds are reading my blog. Which if they are I’m flattered.
But in the effort to be real, and to say something relevant my mind fell upon a time in high school when my best friend wanted to be more than “just friends.” I knew that although he said things wouldn’t be different in our friendship, they would be. I just didn’t want to admit that at the time, because this was before I knew that I had a problem saying, “no.”
So somewhere in between my freshman and sophomore year in high school we made the move from “friends” to “more than friends.” I admit that about 8 weeks into this new level of “friendship” I knew we should be just friends. I KNEW IT. But I screwed up. I dragged out that relationship for almost 7 months. Because I couldn’t bare to “hurt him.” When you’re 15 you don’t realize that sometimes you have to hurt someone in order to not hurt them more later.
I finally got up the nerve to end it with said friend. I also felt like “it’s not you, it’s me” was a genuine, heart felt way to end the relationship. Only in my adult years did I realize how clichéd this statement is, and how it doesn’t make anything better. But this dragging it out for several months and then using a cliché to break up with this friend was not the mistake actually. The real “screw up” came several months later in my Junior year of high school, when I sat with said friend on a fall night and allowed him to convince me to give him another chance. Although I KNEW I was not interested in him. Romance has a way of muddling our better judgment.
So we started dating…again. And once again, only several weeks into it this time, I knew it was time to break up with him. This time because he was mentioning marriage and I was like, “What?! I’m 16! I have plans for my life and I know that you are not a part of those dreams.” So I broke it off with him again. And I won’t get into that whirlwind of drama. The aftermath was not pretty.
And why should I have expected any less? I knowingly, even selfishly, dragged this guy’s heart through the mud. Twice. Naïve or not, I screwed up. It is the one thing that I wish I could have done differently. However, I am grateful for the use of my friend’s heart. Because it taught me several things about relationships and how I wanted to approach them from here on out.
*KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
*Never go out with someone just because you feel sorry for them, or want to boost their ego.
*Never date someone because it will somehow stroke YOUR ego.
* When you know it’s over end it. Don’t think you’re doing them a favor by dragging it out for another several weeks or months.
*If you are not interested in marrying the person, DON’T DATE THEM.
*Do some recon before you say “yes” to even a first date. It’s easier to say “no” to a first date than a second.
*Be careful when dating a friend, because there is a chance that you can’t go back to “Just friends” after you break up.
*DO NOT, under any circumstance, start dating someone again just because you are lonely.
* Be SO careful in interactions with the opposite sex so as to not “lead them on.”
*Flirting can be a very harmful thing to someone’s emotions. Especially if they’re interested and you’re not.
*Never use someone’s attention to gain some kind of momentary self gratification.
*Always think of the other person before yourself, and so on.
I learned so much from that mistake in high school. I learned about my real desires for my future, and that I didn’t want to date in high school. I also learned that breaking up with someone is always worse than being broken up with. At least for me. Hearts are delicate, fragile, tender. Yours and others. So treat other’s hearts with as much care as you know your own heart needs.
But also, take risk. There is no sure formula for never making a mistake, being hurt, or hurting someone else even with our best efforts. But we can be intentional and hopefully make things a little less complicated and painful.
May my mistakes and yours lead us to truth. And may that truth lead us to take better risks.