“How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?”
Romantic love is the stuff of endless, brilliant art forms: song, poetry, film, fashion, story, sculpture, and much more. It’s been known to spark wars and sculpt history. We all have relational histories that form us into the creatures we are today. Some of that history is redemptive and life-giving, some reminds us more of a once exquisite vase, crushed and broken into hundreds of pieces on the kitchen floor. The mess and heartache is so big, we sweep it into a pile and dispose of it. We shop around for weeks, sometimes months, until we find a replacement; something perhaps with a sturdier base and more color. Just the thing that will complete our once cold, bare room.
My own love story has been a winding, quizzical one at best. However, from where I sit with the soft, forgiving lens of perspective and time, I’m grateful. It’s been imperfect, yet without regret. It’s also been a complete surprise, as the one I’d really been looking for all along was right there, yet forgotten and out of reach. She was me, and she desperately longed for the affection and acceptance I heaped on other imposters, who I mistook for my heart’s final answer.
This week I celebrate my first wedding anniversary. I am humbled and beyond grateful for the gift of my marriage, and for Daniel, my incredible husband whom I deeply love and respect. So, in part, today’s post is a celebration of redemption and synchronicity, as our complex stories converged into one in a most peculiar and lovely way. However, it’s also a desperate plea; a wakeup call for anyone out there who’s holding out on hope and happiness, saving it all up for that magical day when they will find “the one.”
This is a vulnerable post, one that I share with caution a healthy sense of fear. Yet I’m convinced our stories kept locked up in a hidden vault only rob weary hearts of those who are famished–so hungry for hope.
Marriage—companionship is a magical thing. It brings a security and knowing that we’ve got a partner in this journey of longing, as Donald Miller puts it in his book Scary Close. It also serves as a high-powered magnifying glass to all the insecurities and faults we’ve had all along, yet managed to mask with makeup, a charming personality, and some self preservation. In my experience, it has forced me to do some pretty hard core personal work.
Here is the heavy-hitting truth I’ve been pummeled by lately: If we’re not convinced of our first love, our secondary love will surely disappoint. By this I mean, unless we truly see, partner with, and lovingly care for our true selves, our “me,” the pursuit of outside relationships to fill that void will crash and burn, leaving the lonely remains of a shattered hope.
In essence, this year I’ve learned I’m celebrating two milestones: my first wedding anniversary, yet perhaps more importantly, a full-circle, loving anniversary with that little Katie whose been desperately trying to get my attention and total acceptance for 37 years. Sure, I’ve done tons and tons of deep personal and spiritual work and have experienced some incredible breakthrough, however, I’ve never had to put all of my baggage through that glorious filter of marriage. It’s hard, it’s heartbreaking, it’s highly unflattering, and it’s absolutely worth every it because it leads us home. Our true home, our birthright, is connection and belonging with self: that bold, honest, open little six-year-old who doesn’t give a rip what other people think. I found that curious little girl in a new way this past year, and the unfolding of life’s story around me has taken on a more gracious, loving tone.
I’ve learned when we go “out there” looking for someone to fix what’s broken “in here” and find it, we’ve fallen in love with how they love us as opposed to the actual heart of that person. We cannot fathom and grasp true love if we are disconnected and at odds with ourselves. The math doesn’t work. I can’t give you something I don’t have. Sure, I can try, however, I’m acting at best.
Comparison with others, harsh self-criticism, low self-worth—these are all signs that there is work to be done and vibrant healing to be had. Guess what? It’s an ongoing process. We never simply “arrive”. Today, I invite you deeper into this work with me. There is no magic potion or pill (sorry for the misleading title), but there is a whole lot of grace and opportunity. We grow in relationship, not isolation. Let’s recover the little ones we left behind so long ago, abandoning them to the needs and wants of others we sought approval and safe harbor with time and time again. The safety of home is right here, right now. When we become love rather than searching to find love, we step into a pure, radiant power. Love is always waiting, and someone very special, very innocent, desperately wants to hold your hand.
Love & Gratitude,
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