Chances are that you have probably heard the phrase, “history repeats itself” at least once in your life time. Chance are also pretty high that you have at least one example in your own life of history repeating itself. I know I do.
Last night I played my violin at Mass and as I played the opening song I looked up and as if he was the only person in the congregation I spotted an ex-boyfriend. The story of our break-up is a sad and long one that no longer bears repeating, nor is it important or relevant to the point of this blog. I looked up and as I saw him my knee jerk reaction was to run. Call it the “fight or flight” response if you want, when it comes to this ex I pretty much always want to run. It wouldn’t have been hard to run either, I was standing by the stairs and could have taken the side door out of the church and been gone (as if leaving dinner with Jesus because my ex was invited would have been an appropriate choice…and in a way that is a preview of Heaven; will I choose to turn away from eternal bliss because I don’t like everyone inside? I should hope not, but that’s an entirely different blog). I could have.
Even now as I sit here and remember being there last night I remember how much I wanted to run, to leave, to not look at him, to not be there in that church with him anywhere near me. I also knew that Mr. Irish was standing behind me playing as well, and I don’t have any desire for the two of them to ever meet. I told Mr. Irish last night that the two of them meeting sounds like a living nightmare to me. Some things, some people, some situations are better left in the past. Maybe, by some freak accident my ex is reading this blog, maybe he isn’t. Either way, I still wanted to run. We broke up nearly a year and a half ago and I see him and that fight or flight response kicks in (and the only place I seem to run into him lately is at church, ironically enough). Last night as I stood there during Mass I finally figured out why I always want to run. I don’t want history to repeat itself.
That’s not to say that I think for a second that I would go running back to him, God knows I wouldn’t, and not just because Mr. Irish is in my life. I wouldn’t go running back to him because when we were together I was weak. I never really stood up for myself. Remember how I said that I sometimes throw cotton balls at Mr. Irish? I don’t think I ever threw anything as hard as a cotton ball at my ex. Mr. Irish saw that I was becoming weak and he challenged me to be stronger, he pushed me and encouraged me to be the strong woman he first fell in love with. My ex did no such thing. If anything, he took full advantage of my weakness. It is no surprise then when I see him that I want to run. I don’t want to be weak anymore, and being around him I ended (past tense!) up being weak. So why run, you ask? Running seems to be the weak option. The stronger option would be to go up to him and give him a piece of my mind, not sit here and write a blog about it. The stronger option would be to go out to the parking lot and deck him (don’t worry, I’d never do that). The stronger option would perhaps be to go up to him (with or without Mr. Irish at my side) and show him just how much stronger and happier I am now. The stronger option would be to show him that I am better off without him. Perhaps those are all true. It’s not that I don’t do those things because I am still weak. I pray that I am not. I don’t do them because, at least in my mind, he no longer deserves any of those things. I’m quite fine with him seeing me at Mass and seeing how happy I am. I’m quite fine with him seeing me sit with Mr. Irish during the homily. In my own way that is me being stronger. I want to run because I want to be done, I want to move on with my life. I want to spend my days with a man who actually encourages and appreciates my strength, not tears it down.
Yes, history repeats itself. But it only repeats itself if we allow it to. I could be in the same boat with Mr. Irish that I was in with my ex, I could be weak and I could never stand up for myself. Our relationship could come to a bitter and painful end. Or, I could find that inner strength, that strength that comes from God and I can stand in a church with Mr. Irish and my ex and I can survive. Someday, God willing, I’ll stand in that situation and thrive, knowing that history will never repeat itself again. I also think it is incredibly fitting that the only times I’ve run into my ex in the last few months have been in church. In line for confession. At Mass. The option to run then looked foolish because I would not only be running away from my ex, I’d be running away from the Sacraments, from grace, from His unending love. When you are faced with the choice of fight or flight, when you think that history may be repeating itself, turn to God. Turn to the Sacraments. Ask His help to keep history from repeating itself and I can promise you that if you open your heart to Him, He will walk you through the pains of your past and into a brighter future.