When it comes to love, I have unfortunately seen many sad days. Ten years ago, my first love was murdered and, though time has eased some of the pain, I still miss him dearly and often wonder what life would look like if we made some different choices together. And even though “the heartbreak heard ‘round the world” is being taught in writing courses here and across the pond and is experiencing a good life of its own, it is still a painful reminder of what can happen when we love people who never intended to love us back.
I have shed many tears over the man who was taken from me ten years ago, over the man who walked away from me two years ago and over all the men in between who did not stay. I have spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades praying to God for partnership- believing that the fact it eluded me was somehow my fault. I’ve celebrated engagements, stood beside my girls in weddings, danced at receptions and played games at baby showers in full excitement at what was happening in the lives of my friends. And then I went back home to an empty house and gave myself permission to catch my breath and wipe the tears that inevitably came with wondering when it would be my turn.
And I have attended every women’s conference, read every book (most written by men who have no business talking to us about this anyway) and listened to every sermon that told me to keep waiting. The answer to my question of “how long” was more waiting. And, honestly, that would be fine if there was genuine room to be transparent about how much waiting sucks. It would be okay to understand that patience is a virtue if more of these conferences, books and sermons acknowledged that we are already waiting and yielded space for just how hard that waiting can be.
There is a loneliness present when you desire partnership and do not have it. For some of us, there is shame too. That should not be ignored and yet, in so many spaces, it is. And many of us have committed to memory the lie that, if God never blesses us with intimate partnership, we will be okay. We’ve been taught that’s what we are supposed to say and most of us are saying it in an effort to trick God and get chosen. In this “Pick Me” world, many have decided that it’s easier to fake contentment in the hopes of catching the eye of one of God’s choice cuts rather than to be honest about the fact that we are over it and be seen, in the eyes of the religious, as desperate or attention seeking. But I learned a long time ago that it will only be honesty that sets me free.
The honesty, for me, is that there are parts of me that are jaded and I have every right to be. I’ve seen a lot and those pains run deep. Shallow Christian faith says that being jaded and bitter is sign of immaturity and a refusal to “let go and let God”. Mature, forward thinking faith knows that God is big and compassionate enough to understand and empathize with why I feel that way. And, when God honors my transparency and whispers soothing words of care, I am still called to trust and believe that my deepest desires can belong to me.
My dream -as hilariously petty as it is- is to trip over big wheels, have my husband say I make macaroni-and-cheese better than his mama but swear me to secrecy, and hit my group chat to inform them that I’m giving away him and all these kids with the house when they are getting on my last nerve. And because they love me, my friends remind me of this dream every time I think it’s no longer possible. They remind me to have faith. When it comes to that, sometimes it feels like the hardest thing to do. And yet, I am reminded that hoping and believing in better days is what has kept us alive. I stand tall, ten years after burying a cute boy with a beautiful smile and not enough time to grow into all the ways it would have healed him and the world, because I believed that joy had to come. Two years after having it broken, I have a healed heart because somehow I believed that there had to be more to love than experiencing its counterfeit. All of who have wiped tears before are here today because we believed that, one day, those tears would stop. And if we could believe that the crying would eventually end, then we can believe that days of full and deep joy are on the horizon.
I recently had to confess a not so pretty truth to myself: I believe that God can deliver me out of rough times. I have a bit of trouble, though, believing that God can usher me into times where nothing but goodness surround me. When our hearts have been broken, it is so easy for us onto hold the brokenness as our identity and to believe that our happy endings are dependent upon it. But if our identity as faithful believers contradicts that in every other area of our lives, why do we allow it to hold us captive when it comes to matters of the heart? Believing that God will send us love is not an easy thing to do but we have to believe it- unless we’re ready to give up on the dreams that have kept us going when nothing else could.
And I am not. I’m not ready to let go of the highest of my dreams. And so, when the pain is its most raw and when the fears reach fever pitch, I pray to the God who pulled me through in 2008 and again in 2017. I am honest with that God and I tell that God that I want to believe but I am exhausted from believing. And that God hears me and tells me that he’ll take it from here. And with an uncertain heart in one hand and a confident memory in the other, I choose to believe that the God who has made so many ways will make a way again.