Then I run away and never speak to him again.
Just kidding. That escalated quickly.
I don’t usually talk about dating, because I still believe in keeping things private and the throes of love, relationships, and dating are, yes, intriguing, but when you’re living it, should be kept private.
But, alas, I will talk about love today, because throughout every moment in life it’s the one thing that remains constant. Meaning, love (whether feeling or action) permeates each moment of our lives. Don’t believe me? Take a look around.
And I wholeheartedly believe it is the strongest force on Earth.
For me, God is Love. So it makes sense that love is the strongest force here on Earth. And it makes us do all sorts of things.
So, that’s what I want to talk about. Love and vulnerability and how I learned to love and be vulnerable again after pain broke me down for a bit.
We’re Scared To Commit. We’re Scared to Love.
The majority of us are very, very lucky to live in a world where we have options. So many options. What do you want to eat? Jump online and skim through hundreds of restaurants. Where should you buy your car? Drive down Independence Blvd. in Charlotte, NC and you have a whole slew of dealerships to choose from… and that’s just one road. In one city. In one state. Heck, I can’t even find a backpack I like for my upcoming trip to Europe, because there are so many options.
It’s fashioned us into a people of “What Ifs.”
- What if one day that totally unattainable girl from Instagram actually makes a move?
- What if one day I decide I don’t want to be with him forever?
- What if one day I feel like traveling the world and I can’t because I have a husband and three kids who need all of my attention?
- What if I can find something better on Bumble or Tinder or Hinge or Match… or God knows what else…
- What if I get my heart broken?
And then we “what if” ourselves into never committing and never loving.
But let’s talk about being broken and the choices we make when we’re broken, which is typically why we have the “what if” mentality.
Everyone’s A Little Bit Broken
When we’re broken, as in our soul is broken (as in we’ve been hurt so many times and so deeply), we don’t think clearly. We’re not standing on stable ground. And typically, we’re ashamed of that brokenness.
So, how does that affect how we love? Well, it makes it very, very difficult, for one.
It also keeps us chasing the wrong things and always at an arm’s length away from what breaks us.
I found this quote. And yes, I’m about to go basic white girl on you right now.
Mmmm, girl (or guy). Yes.
How often, when we’re broken, do we search for things that only cause us to stumble and fall and lose ourselves, yet again. And this doesn’t have to be in a romantic sense either.
For some, the brokenness can make us hostile, bitter, unapproachable, and straight up mean.
We end up pushing away the people that we love or we end up back where we first lost ourselves… for what? To think that it’ll be better the third time, round?
But that person or that “thing” says they miss you and you’re like, “What the heck. I just got over you. I’m fine. Leave me alone.”
But your heart longs for a love like that again. Even if it wasn’t right or healthy or in God’s plan to continue on. Goodness, can I get an amen?
And you want that back. You want that comfort. You want that consistency. Even though you know it wasn’t right and it caused you so much pain. So, sometimes you stumble and backtrack and you go. You go back to him or her or it and it feels right and then it feels so absolutely terribly wrong. (And remember, this isn’t just romantic love. This can be anything that doesn’t serve you.)
I’ve been there.
I think we all have.
But There’s Hope
One time, I fell in love with this tall, strapping young man who bought me an engagement ring and I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. And I was more than willing to do so. To work through all of the kinks in our relationship to spend a lifetime with someone who brought me joy. But then… then he brought me pain. So much pain. To the point that I had to get a restraining order. And it felt like my world was crashing down around me. I had to go to court, look at him straight in the eye, someone I didn’t even recognize anymore, as he divulged some of my deepest secrets to a courtroom of strangers (which included my dad… my poor dad. He’s a saint.)
But it’s funny, because that didn’t stop me from loving again.
Because then, I fell in love with my best friend. And we dated and it was fun and whimsical and filled with laughter and good times. So many good times. And every time I thought about him he put a smile on my face. He still does. But he didn’t love me back. And that hurt. Like hell.
But it’s funny again, because through the pain, through the love, I found true Love. And that rests within my relationship with God. And after the whirlwind of the past two years, I’ve finally (praise God, FINALLY) accepted who I am and love me for me. Which means I’m not searching for Love in all the wrong places. I’m not trying to make relationships work that so very clearly are not going to work.
And I can see those warning signs from the beginning of something new. I know what doesn’t serve me. I know it, because I’ve spent a long time reflecting on who I am, who I want to be, and I’ve written down everything that does and does not serve me. If it’s on the “does not serve me” list, I don’t even go there.
So, maybe you’ve been there too. Where you’ve been beaten and broken down enough times to say, “Hey, wait. I’m worth way more than this.” And you take a step back and realize your worth. But in realizing your worth, you realize you must be vulnerable.
I was listening to a podcast by Leah Darrow. And she had on this adorable couple, Jackie and Bobby Angel, who recently wrote a couples’ devotional entitled, “Forever.” In the podcast, Leah recites her favorite C.S. Lewis quote, which when I heard it I went… “What?” See below:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis,
For so long after getting my heart broken (the first time), I took on hobbies (which I write about in this blog post) and I threw myself into so many things that were a means to keep my heart guarded. No way was anyone going to break me down again. But in that process, I lost myself. And more importantly, I closed myself away from God.
A Second Chance at Vulnerability
It took a strong firm, “I can’t live like this anymore,” to break me free from the chains of not being closed off and away from from the world. I used to be vulnerable and trusting before the pain. Then I let the pain consume me and refused to open up my heart to the beautiful world around me. And that’s part of what ruined my relationship with my best friend.
Then I learned, it’s okay to say “No” to what doesn’t serve you, to stand on firm and solid ground, and to still open your heart and love and be vulnerable at the same time.
You don’t have to give yourself to everyone. You don’t have to close yourself off to everyone either.
It takes finding out and figuring out who you are, what you stand for, and where you want to be.
You are imperfect, but you are worthy of love. When you wholeheartedly believe that, you can open your heart while having the fortitude to say “No” to what doesn’t serve you.
So, despite the pain, despite the uncertainty, the imperfection, love someone with your whole heart today. Open up to someone with no guarantees of their response.
Gosh darn it, Live.
(And check out this phenomenal video on vulnerability from Brene Brown.)
BUT if that doesn’t do it for ya, take a lesson from Michael Scott.
Four months ago I dated a woman named Holly. And, uh, this is actually the first time that I’ve even considered getting back into the arena again. You know what? Sometimes it’s not whether Cinderella gets her slipper back, but it’s about the fact that the prince even picked up the slipper at all. There’s a lot of princesses out there. You know they have all different sizes and shapes of feet. And hands! So… I think… I think my odds are pretty good.
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