I loved me a man with “swag”. One who was a little rough around the edges and had some type of back-story.

I have been known to date or love a man with a sordid history, a few run-ins with the law, and maybe even a dose of baby mama drama… just for a little variety.

And not because I had the same.

I grew up in a traditional home. You know, the family that you see pictured in stick figures on the back of mini vans across the country. Mom, Dad, 2 kids, and a dog. That was us.

My mom and dad were married until the day he passed and I had a close-knit extended family filled with love and support. You’re looking at a woman who, by definition, would be considered a straight-laced nerd; boasting straight A’s, earning upper level degrees, and following dreams in the professional sphere.

Making those clearly defined, strategically aligned decisions that would get me to the next level.

But when it came to matters of the heart, I spent 23 years failing miserably.

From jailhouse love affairs to side chick status… baby mama drama to protective orders… you name it, I lived it. And I’m going to believe that it wasn’t because I was a bad person, more than I was a broken person.

The cracks in my armor made me seek out relationships with my eyes, fill them with lustful desires, and hold on to them with my belief that if I loved them enough, I could save them.

I spent years fighting for and in relationships that contradicted all that I was praying for.

I found my way out when my partner wanted nothing more to do with me, only to connect with another one with the same broken spirit. And with each connection made, I lost pieces of myself. Pieces that, in my darkest hour, I believed I would never get back.

The saying “hurt people, hurt people” is one of the truest statements ever spoken.

It wasn’t like God didn’t bring me amazing people to help heal my brokenness. I just couldn’t see them.

You see, they were not covered in swag, smelling of lust, and speaking drama; so in my mind’s eye, they couldn’t be the person for me.

For years, I wept for my broken heart and cried out for deliverance.  I questioned why God made me the way He did. Why was my God-given imprint steeped in forgiveness, hope and love? Why wasn’t I ever strong enough to leave or love myself enough not to go back?

Worst of all, why didn’t God help me?

I can’t say that I had some kind of epiphany that shook my soul and made me realize my self worth, because that would be a lie. I can’t even say that I was smart enough to listen to all of the Jesus kisses I was receiving, telling me what I was supposed to do.

What I will say is… I didn’t want to be broken anymore.

I realized that I had spent so much time trying to fix them that I had not done any work on myself. I had played super-save’em in my relationships, when in reality I was the one who needed saving. I had been so busy forgiving indiscretions, hoping for us, and extending love to them that I had nothing left for me.

And hence the work began.

Not on my relationship with my man, but on my relationship with myself.

I had lost so much of myself that I knew nothing about the woman I had become. Or what this new woman wanted.

I began to follow my purpose and not my worldly prescription. And as I began to walk on the path that was uniquely made for me, I learned what love truly looked like.

I learned that I didn’t get the love I had been praying for all those years because I wasn’t ready for him and he wasn’t ready for me. We both needed to go through some things.

I realized that I had been praying for a man with patience and understanding, passion and purpose, drive and ambition. An insurmountable love for family, a protector, provider, encourager, supporter, lover, and friend.

But never once had I prayed for “swag”.

Love is not something we can see with the limited scope of our eyes. It is something felt in our humanness. Contagious and electric. Its scope is inconceivable and its ability is world changing.

I still love a man with swag and a backstory, because God wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bu now, his backstory has prepared him for me, and his swag is steeped in a love that could only be felt by the man from whose rib I was made.

Now I understand that I only know this love because I did the work that it took to learn what love looks like.

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