As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was being redirected to something better. That quote? There are honestly so many people who are credited for saying it (Maya Angelou, Steve Maraboli, Imam Al Ghazali) that I don't know who to give it to. I'm using it because I honestly couldn't find a more appropriate way to start this piece off.
A couple of nights ago, while perusing the internet, I read two pieces that had the same theme albeit two different approaches. One was a Q&A about a woman who dated a guy who claimed to not believe in marriage. After six years of being together, they broke up, only for him to get engaged "10 seconds later". The other piece featured a letter that a woman wrote to her ex who chose to marry someone else.
In some ways, both articles were heart-wrenching. I think we all know what it's like to really want something (or someone), only to have things not turn out the way we wanted it (or even expected it) to. But as I thought about how the advice the first woman received was her needing to accept that it wasn't that the guy was opposed to marriage, it was that he didn't want to marry her (ouch), and how the second woman came to resolve of "If you would have stayed, I might have always believed that you were the best thing about me and never searched for more and found that it was always within myself all along," one overall conclusion came to my mind.
Life not going as planned can hurt. No doubt it. But you know what's so much worse? Putting all of your blood, sweat, tears and time into trying to make something work that simply isn't meant to be. Refusing to accept that no matter how much you love or desire something, you really should let it go.
How can you know if this is something you are in complete denial about?
5 Signs Something Isn't Meant To Be
1. You’re Changing the Very Core of Who You Are to Make It Work
Whenever a woman writes me to talk about how, in the midst of trying to make a relationship work or last, she feels like she's literally breaking her neck to make it happen, most times my response is "You only find yourself bending over backwards when your bar is low."
I've been engaged before. Once. For a day. My fiancé passed back in 1995. We were both just 21. When I think back to what made him such a truly exceptional kind of man to love, it's that he celebrated every part of my being. He didn't want me to dress differently, lose (or gain) weight, like things I didn't like or change my personality in order to be a better "fit" for him. He dug me. Head to toe. Inside and out. End of story.
I can't say that about some of the guys who followed him. One man, in particular, he was always dropping hints about liking longer hair, wishing that I was less outgoing and not quite so—he said militant but I'm gonna go with—Black (and yes, he is a Black man—SMH).
I loved him, so I looked at trying to accommodate his preferences as a form of compromise. Looking back, I was actually co-signing on him trying to change the very core of my being. Coming to that revelation was tough, but it taught me a very valuable lesson—however God made you, there is a purpose in it. Whatever and whomever are meant for you will not try and change you, they will complement and improve you.
Anything or one else? LET. IT. GO.
2. It Doesn’t Benefit Your Purpose in Any Real or Lasting Way
OK, let's expound on that purpose point for just a second. How much time do you spend 1) focusing on why you exist and 2) making sure that you live that reason out to the fullest? Bookmark that for just a sec.
The first word that's used to define a woman in the Bible is "helper" (Genesis 2:18). If you look up the Hebrew word the helper, it's Ezer Kenegdo, which means "lifesaver" (dope, right?). As someone who does apply the Bible to her life, I think being designed to be a helper/lifesaver is a part of the reason why we, as women, go ALL IN for the men—shoot, the people in general—that we love. But I'm not ONLY here to help others. God gave me my own specific and individual purpose outside of supporting other people.
When it comes to romantic relationships, I've learned to accept that if a man doesn't wake up the queen in me, he's not my king. Meaning, if he's not someone who is using his gifts, resources, and time to help me to thrive as a woman, as I do the same for him, while he might be meant to be in my life in some sort of capacity, it's certainly not as a husband.
And you know what? This applies to all other sorts of dynamics as well—friendships, career paths, opportunities. If you keep putting yourself into people, places, things, and ideas that distract you from your purpose, you definitely need to do some personal reassessing. Life is way too short to be out here doing any and everything but what you were put/sent here to do in the first place.
3. Nothing You Do Is Ever Really Enough
The last official corporate job I had was processing contracts for a timeshare company almost 20 years ago. It didn't matter how early I arrived, how many contracts I processed, or how many times I skipped lunch to help someone out, one of my managers was always dissatisfied with my performance. The harder I tried, the more frustrated they got and the more stressed out I would become. This cycle continued until one day, I got fired.
To this day, that is the only time that has ever happened. When I walked out and sat in my car with a "What the heck was that?!" look on my face knowing that money was tight and rent was due, I thought it was one of the worst things to ever happen to me.
In hindsight, it was the direct opposite. It's one thing to be devoted or even to make sacrifices. It's another matter entirely when you find yourself giving your all and, whether it's a job or relationship, to others, it really doesn't matter.
Something that is meant to be will appreciate you and show it.
Something that isn't, won't.
4. Fear Rather Than (Self) Love Is the True Motivator
A Vietnamese monk by the name of Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future." I can't tell you how many relationships (friendships included) that I kept hanging onto, well past their shelf life, because I thought I was being loving when really what I was being was fearful. Either I was hanging on to the past parts when things were good or I was freaking out about what was in store for me if I moved on.
If you're staying with something or someone because you're scared of what will happen if you release it/them, that's usually a sign that you have an unhealthy attachment to it. True love is about growth, freedom, joy, flexibility, and even wisdom, mercy and grace. Fear doesn't exist well in any of those attributes.
A lot of people are currently in some pretty toxic situations, all because they are afraid of what life would look like if they removed themselves from them. But all fear does is make you worse, not better.
If fear is your motivation for anything, there's a good chance that while you may be trying to hang onto something (or one), it probably isn't meant to be.
5. You Lack Inner Peace
What comes to your mind when you think of peace? Stillness? Tranquility? No drama? All of those are great definitions but the Hebrew word "shalom" takes peace to an entirely different level! Shalom isn't just about quiet. It's about being whole, complete, and even content.
Looking back, there were so many things in my life that I was trying to force to be "meant to be" that had one blaring red flag that they weren't—I had no peace. They were fragmenting me, they were harming me and they certainly didn't bring a state of harmony and contentment to my health and well-being.
I know a lot of us want something to work out simply because we want it. But be thankful that God and the Universe love you far too much to allow that to happen.
When things seem like they're not working out, if it's based on the things that I just shared, give thanks. When something isn't meant to be, it's because something else is. Release so that you can ultimately receive.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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