Love and marriage…?
If we’re being honest, I thought I was going to be writing on white supremacy in the church for today (don’t worry—that post will still be happening). Instead, God was all, “You’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Think a little harder. Process.” So here we are. Remember the post about fear where like four of the things I listed were surrounding love, marriage, and family?? Yeah. Super thrilled to be here today.
To keep in line with the honesty, sarcasm is one of my first responses to fear. And I’ve been dodging this topic left and right for years. Here are some of my finest examples:
Father: “Got a boyfriend yet?”
Me: “Yeah. You’ve met Jose before, right? Cuervo?”
Friend I’m getting coffee with: “So have you met anyone?”
Me: *laughs* *too hard* *for too long*
Roommate: “I’m really curious what type of guy you’re going to be with next…”
Me: “But have you TRIED beer?”
Roommate: “Yeah ha-ha you’re funny, but you aren’t getting out of this one.”
Any male on the planet: *notices my existence*
Me: *visibly panics*
So yeah, clearly I’m doing great. In fact, recently, I decided to Google “problems 31 women” to see what the results were. Google was savage.
There is some truth in my sarcasm, though it is a total defense mechanism. The past few years I have been single have grown me immensely. God was with me in every dark hour, in every high, and in every gray day when everything seemed meaningless. There were a few people who walked out of my life unexpectedly, and I was able to practice loving them regardless (which sucks, btw). God talked me into doing some soul searching and discovering who I am and who I was made to be, which is all still in progress. While this growth has been a hurricane of chaotic weeks, heartbreak, courage, and ridiculous laughter, there is one area of my life I have kept on the shelf for a long time.
I’ve given excuses. I’ve said I’m getting to know myself, that I have more to work through before I’m ready, that I’m still healing from my break up, that I’m happy where I’m at. The last one is the most honest, but contentment does not give me an excuse to ignore my emotional baggage. I think part of me wants to believe if I keep ignoring it, it will just go away and I’ll be fine in the future. Jesus performed quite a few miracles in His lifetime, but I don’t recall Him ever telling a sad twenty-three year old woman, “Get up. Your faith has healed your daddy issues and fear of commitment.” Granted, that may be a little specific to me to fit the Hebrew culture from 2,000 years ago, but you get the idea. I fully believe God could remove my baggage for me, but I think He requires a little more faith.
The kind of faith that says, “God, I will love others because you first loved us, no matter how hurt I am.”
The kind of faith that reminds me every day I am loved by a perfect Father and that Jesus was willing to die on my behalf.
The kind of faith that says, “God, I’m going to be vulnerable and move forward despite my fear because You are good. I trust You.”
The kind of faith that takes my health seriously and actively makes steps towards improving it and empowering others to improve their own.
I don’t know if I have that kind of faith yet. These past two years I’ve tried to reclaim my faith in marriage. Surely if I watch people fall in love and get married, it would give me hope, right? If I replaced the images I have of brokenness, abuse, divorce, and bitterness, I wouldn’t be so afraid. So I clung to those positive examples (many of whom are still newlyweds, mind you, so they have a long ways to go). When relationships took a turn for the worse, I was there for my friends and felt for them, but I would often think, “This is why we don’t go here. I can’t go through this again.”
Even in my friendships I am extremely cautious. Allowing someone into my madness, my storm, my chaotic life and having them walk away breaks me. Every. Single. Time. This past summer I had a friend I hadn’t heard from in five years reach out to me, and he broke down telling me about his divorce. Ironically, I had been telling my roommate five minutes prior to his message that I was “done being there for people only when they need me” and “the next person who needs something can go find someone else.”
The Lord continues to humble me. After talking with him until about 2 AM, I was heartbroken for my friend and extremely honored that after all this time he felt he could still come to me. I reminisced on our friendship and was reminded that love isn’t seasonal. Love is constant. Love is real and He is omnipotent. Some people are only with me for a few short chapters of my life before our stories drift apart, but that love is not worth any less. After five years without speaking, my friend is still dear to me, and always will be. He couldn’t be written into the most recent few chapters of my life, but I would refuse to ever remove him from the book.
One of my brothers (not blood-relatives, but the two of them are family to me) called me from Guatemala the other day, and I found myself dying with laughter at our thirty-minute phone call. He has only been able to spend about five hours in person with me in the last four years. I’ve come to terms with the fact that our season of living life together has passed, but that doesn’t mean I’m moving on. It means I treasure phone calls, memories, memes, and whatever bits and pieces of love that come my way. It means I spend more time in person loving new people that are in this season with me, not that I love him any less.
The reality is that my faith cannot be renewed in watching other marriages, whether they thrive or fail. It cannot be renewed in lifelong friendships or promises no one can keep. Faith in relationships must be placed in the Gospel—the story of how Love wins every time. Even if we lose every battle, Love has already overcome. That every time my heart breaks, it’s because it loved, and that’s what it is designed to do.
God has pushed me to love others more, and at one point went as far as directly commanding me to become friends with someone I otherwise would have preferred to avoid. That avoidance came not out of judgment, but fear. So I’ve been practicing vulnerability, knowing it could come back to haunt me. I hope it does. I hope I’m haunted by the beautiful and broken stories from people I never expected and memories that could not have existed without them. In the words of Miranda Lambert, “If it has to end in tears, I hope that it’s in sixty years.”
Today’s post is dedicated to my people. Those who have walked with me for days, weeks, months, or years. Whether we talk daily, annually, or even less, the love I have for you points me back to God. These relationships remind me who Love is, who Love is about, and why I choose Him every day. What a gift it is to have witnessed love in even the tiniest form and have these reminders that there are better days ahead. I fall in love with people all the time, and that looks less like dating and more like phone calls, sharing food and drinks, and hand-written notes. Actually, that does sound a lot like dating. But the end goal of love is relationship, and those are the ways I like to build them.
So fight me. I’m busy falling in love again. I don’t need a ring on my finger or someone to hold my hand to remind me what love looks like. I know what love looks like. And I won’t continue to walk in fear of the future. My other brother reminded me recently that it’s not entirely up to me whether or not I get married, so I can’t claim I won’t someday. I do promise to dive deeply and wholeheartedly with the people around me, and that is plenty. A husband sounds like a side effect of doing so.
I’ll leave y’all with one of my favorite poems from rupi kaur, which has encouraged me over the last few years.
what is stronger
than the human heart
which shatters over and over
and still lives.
With humility and so much love,