Sometimes, on a Thursday, dreams come true. And sometimes, on a Thursday, dreams fall apart.
I remember that first post from a little over a year ago. It was about the book Scary Close, Donald Miller’s heartfelt look at what true intimacy means. As I read, I remember the conviction I felt over how I made my life work—weighing relationships, constantly analyzing the risks I took, extracting payment from those who disappointed, withdrawing my heart when I feared it would be left or hurt.
I always bore the responsibility for my relationships. I would trust to the extent you had performed well. I would work tirelessly to close distance. I would measure every word before it came out of my mouth.
I rarely had to entrust my fears to the people I loved; I could control those fears myself.
That was not the woman who removed her engagement ring a few Thursdays ago.
I wrote that first post wanting to say “yes” to intimacy, rather than moderate it. I write this second one with a heart tender to what an intimate life asks you to surrender to faith.
This past November, I attended Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference. The conference was designed to help each participant live and tell better stories. My ex-fiancé Aaron came too. If I were to boil down who I’ve become between that first post and this one, I’d pick a moment at that conference, way up high in the balcony, while Bob Goff spoke on what love is willing to do for another.
We all carry secrets. We all hold the ace for what we believe makes us unlovable or what we fear will make us unworthy. Aaron and I were no exception. And it was up in that balcony, right before Bob took the stage that we shared an intentional conversation revealing some of our deepest shames and fears, it felt like we both spilled out all over the auditorium carpet. Holding the weight of it all, we each wondered if we had enough for the other. We both felt the fear of being known and then rejected.
Bob began to speak and we hung in the balance of his words. He was kind and inspiring, filled with the love that has changed him. And if you’ve ever heard love speak, you know that it is powerful.
Bob’s words and Aaron’s courage were the invitation I’d been waiting for. I wasn’t going to be the girl with the relational scorecard, the risk analysis graph, and the intimacy Gantt chart. I didn’t feel my fear more than I loved Aaron. I wanted him, and I wanted to be loved by him. He was worth it.
Love is a life-altering choice—giving it, hoping in it, waiting for it. That moment in the balcony, life got a lot bigger for me. I felt more alive and more foolish, more connected and more exposed. I still struggled with the same patterns, but time and again learned that trust and honesty wouldn’t kill me. In fact, they were the key avenues through which Aaron and I came to give and receive love.
I know for Aaron those avenues eventually got blocked. I know the fear from waiting and hoping he’d risk opening them again and not get lost. I know the choice of believing in his heart. I know the disbelief of hearing him ask for a ring back.
Intimacy means you let someone choose to love you. So it also means you let them choose to stop, even if it blisters your heart in pain.
That’s why it’s so scary…you have to let a person in all the way, hoping in their choices rather than dictating them. It’s the ultimate risk.
I’m going to be different again. The first Thursday changed me; the second one will too. I could look at what happened as the perfect evidence for why all of my relational systems were so effective. The betrayal by Aaron would never have happened to the more controlled me.
But I love who I was that day up in the balcony. I loved getting to love Aaron. I love how cherished and wanted I felt because I opened my heart to him. I wouldn’t trade that woman for the more managed one. And I hope when the waves cease crashing, I’m a more confident version of her.
Whatever happens, it does appear that life, death, and dreaming still come for me on Thursdays.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 26 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.
A heart such as yours is one that will always change things.
I furiously hope that you continue to ride those waves with this dignity; with this wild love that can’t help but leave its mark of something more.
“and I say to my heart: rave on…” (Mary Oliver)
Dear Kris, Thank you. “Wild dignity,” that is a good phrase to hold on to for what lies ahead. I hope to live it out well. much love, Katy.
Katy, your resiliency and willingness to share your wounded heart just days away from such heartache just enhances your loveliness. Beauty unfolding…..clearly beauty for ashes.
Thank you, Valerie. Taking a couple of months was definitely a wise choice for searching my feelings to find the right words to hold the story.
Rest in the deep intimacy that is in God, and He will see you through each and every trauma. Beautifully done. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable to all kinds of intimacy. Soul on paper is just one.
You are welcome, Linda. Thank you for your kind words.
Is that Scott Hamilton sitting next to you? It sure looks like him!
Lol, Deb. Really? Yes, he is at the front of the picture.
My heart goes out to you, for the dreams that won’t materialize, but also a prayer of thanks to the God who sees. To find out after marriage that perhaps this wasn’t the person the Lord had for me is painful beyond imagination….I know. Now with the man God chose, it also beyond imagination in love and joy. Praying the Lord wraps you in His arms and gives you courage to continue to trust. Thank you for sharing and your transparency. Blessings Sister.
Yes, I am very mindful of God’s tender mercies for both Aaron and I at this time.
Oh Katy, my heart hurts for you.
Thank you for your bold and courageous gift of a post. Your love and journey inspire me. Praying for you and your heart.
Thank you so much, for your words and your prayers. Both are certainly a gift.
Dear Katy, love, hugs and blessings to you from me. I have been so sad since I heard the news….Your heart is so beautiful to have written all that you did. Especially this:” I wasn’t going to be the girl with the relational scorecard, the risk analysis graph, and the intimacy Gantt chart. I didn’t feel my fear more than I loved Aaron. I wanted him, and I wanted to be loved by him. He was worth it.” You are a courageous and loving woman. Your heart is lovely and calls me to enlarge my heart in greater ways. Thank you for this post. I have wondered and prayed and am so very sorry for the heartache you have suffered (and still recovering from).
Dear Becky, Thank you. I will gladly take all the love, hugs and blessings. And thanks for allowing my heart to touch yours.
Katy, You are stunning. You honor yourself, Aaron, and your God. A rich offering like this does not come only from pain, but from a finely-honed intimacy with Jesus that pours out like honey when it is pressed. Thank you for wanting Jesus. Your courageous heart is a gift to us, as you share it so generously. I wish there was not such a high price tag for the kind of love you desire, but that love is worth it. Every blistering cent of it. I want you to know I am praying for you on the long road back.
Dear Jan, I haven’t looked at the story quite from that perspective. I knew the telling had to occur, and it is sweet to have your eyes notice what that could mean and represent. I will hold your words close in the coming days. Much love, Katy.
“But I love who I was that day up in the balcony. I loved getting to love Aaron. I love how cherished and wanted I felt because I opened my heart to him. I wouldn’t trade that woman for the more managed one.” I can attest that Katy is beautiful, alluring, strong, inviting…and not was, but is. Even in the midst of such incredibly painful betrayal, your stunning loveliness has been evident over and over again. It is evident here, in the kindness of your words for both your heart and Aaron’s. Much love to you!
“But I love who I was that day up in the balcony. I loved getting to love Aaron. I love how cherished and wanted I felt because I opened my heart to him. I wouldn’t trade that woman for the more managed one. And I hope when the waves cease crashing, I’m a more confident version of her.” Apparently, I feel some of the same things Janet does as I had already copied this paragraph to paste. Yes, dear one. That last line says so much as well…when the waves cease crashing. You are still in all of this, feeling and processing and as this changes you, I am confident that I will love that version of you just as much. You are a true delight. I love you.