I've been the other girl before.

Yea, I know, it ain't the kind of news you bring with you to Thanksgiving dinner:

"Hey Aunt K... everything is going great... oh, that noise? That's just the phone beeping. I've got a text message... It's from a guy... No, he isn't my boyfriend... No, he actually has a girlfriend already... Yea...So...Righttt....Pass the butter? "

I've been the other girl before and I learned (quickly, might I add) how very un-endearing the whole mess of it is. To your friends. To your family. To your own self when you finally shut off the phone at night and curl up beside the fact that he isn't yours... Really... He. Isn't. Yours. And out there, somewhere, is a girl you've never met before but you've managed to wreck her heart without her even knowing it yet.

Cue the point in this post where I squirm and say that I am not a bit proud of this story but I feel it needs to be told.

No matter how you stared at the thing, it was a blaring train wreck. He lied. He cheated. I welcomed the lies. I welcomed the cheating. I thought, with almost every brain cell that was in attendance during those long rationalization sessions, that he would leave her. He would choose me. He would see that it was me who he actually wanted all along, come to his senses and find a way to break up with her. And this would simply be a rocky Chapter One of a book that would hold dozens & dozens of sentences where his name met mine.

It didn't unravel that way. Quite the opposite.

He never chose me. He never looked back. He never offered explanation. To this day, I don't know if the girl even knows my name.

The boy once said that he wanted to know me from start to finish.

He wanted to know all the crooks & curves of my childhood. He wondered how I was as a teenager. What kept me up at night. I, being the faithful, drooling tour guide that I was at the time, led him showroom by showroom into the depths of a heart that should have never been his for the examination.

I unlocked doors for him that I swore could never be opened.

I cleared out cluttered rooms.

I laid insecurities down like playing cards.

I let him know the parts of me that were made to be saved & savored by someone who didn't view me as the Other Girl, rather as the Only Girl. My heart broke in the simple of the simple truths: he never guarded the secrets. He never buried the stories like pumpkins seeds in the soil of his own heart. He is still walking around, holding the hand of another, with all my deepest fears & greatest hopes rattling around inside of him. And they, the most treasured spots of me, have become pocket change.

That's what hurt the most. Not the Rejection. Not the Goodbye. The fact that I treated my own heart like it was worthless, slung it like a slingshot over to his side of the fence.

Hi,

my name is Guard Your Heart, the Most Overly Fluffed Life Lesson of the 21st Century.

Cue frumpy Christian women wearing pastel skirt suits & donning slower southern drawl.

That is what I heard, over & over & over again, anytime I tried to come to grips with the broken shards of me that clumped like puddles of table sugar at my feet wherever I was standing.  Guard your heart. You have to learn to guard your heart. And there, in the middle of my own conviction, I would move from foot to foot until the Cliche Police came to haul the whole "Guard Your Heart" rhetoric off in cliche-y handcuffs.

Guarding your heart (whatever the heck that means) might really mean nothing until you realize how it feels to leave your heart unguarded. & suddenly it hurts like hell. & you feel pretty cheap. & branded on the forehead with some blaring label that reads: LESS WORTHY OF LOVE.

Guarding your heart feels like nothing until you slip into the hands of Another that Never Deserved You. Until you are barren & broken before someone who cannot handle your junk, doesn't want your issues, and is more than comfortable texting four different numbers and calling each one, "Baby." Baby. Baby. Baby. Baby.

Guarding your heart is just a verse from the Proverbs your mama used to tell you until you get left. & he doesn't come back. & you decide that this is what you deserve--the mess, the strangeness, the absence--you had it coming for you. Really, girl, you had it coming straight for you.

And guarding your heart is a fairy tale concept all smothered in pixie snot until you see for yourself that God even finds the messes you make to be beautiful. Grace makes sure of that. You'll be stand in layers & layers of junk and He'll reveal the gold & copper sitting all around you, waiting for love and just a smidge of polish.

Guarding your heart, it sounds like languages gone extinct from unuse until God speaks. Until Hesays something to blow your little face off:

I want you to know, need  you to know, that your heart is big & beautiful thing--far more precious than you will ever understand. Don't even try to fathom the weight of it. Just know this-- I cannot stand to see it thrown, tousled, trapped in the hands of a Someone who was never made to hold it.

Heed the whisper that I am planting in your spirit: Every. Bit. Of. You. Is. Precious. Cargo. Your heart, your dreams, your hurts, your pains-- they never belonged buried in the hands of a Someone who doesn't fully understand you. They never belonged buried in the hands of a Someone who doesn't fully understand what it took to make you.

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