Hello my dear blog-readers. This week’s blog is going to take a step away from the educational, and towards the personal. That’s right, my following blog posts are going to be dating blogs. Hooray! C’mon – you know you’re excited to read about my dating mishaps. I hope you can learn through my missteps, and if not, I hope that at least you will be entertained.
To begin, I must confess that I am in love with Mumford & Sons music. The following quote is from my favorite song of their’s, and it’s one that keeps popping up for me these days:
“You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart.” – ‘Ghosts that We Knew’
Beautiful, no? When I first heard this song, I sat in my car and cried that ugly cry we all hate to admit that we have. It was not pretty. I immediately thought of God, and how He loved me unconditionally through the good, the bad, and the worst-ever year of horrible-bad-unfortunate-things.
For me, the year 2012 definitely felt like the end of the world. Within a few months, I witnessed horrors over and over again at an old job; found out my parents were getting divorced; my boyfriend at the time broke up with me; and to top it all off, I got bronchitis. I spent days crying and coughing and shaking from flash backs and panic attacks. I laid awake at night, terrified to go to sleep because I knew I would have the same dream about being attacked or murdered. For weeks I was convinced that my life was over, that I was too broken to be healed, that I would never be healthy again, and worst of all, that I would never find a man who could love someone so broken.
About a month later I met Danger (the irony of his nickname is not lost on me). He smiled at me, and wooed me with talk of rock music and books, but I ran away thinking I was in no shape to date. I was broken beyond repair. I would not subject such a nice, cute guy to my revolving door of crazy, complete with Xanax and a lovely string of diagnoses: PTSD, OCD, and GAD. Why would anyone want to date me? Surely God took the vocation of marriage away from me by now.
But as usual, God had other ideas.
You see, Danger kept coming back. Over and over again. And eventually, the pull was so strong, I gave in. Being with him brought me peace like I’d never known before. I was calm near him. I could breathe around him. My prayer improved, I smiled more, and I started sleeping through the night.
It freaked me out.
I kept trying to push him away, convinced I wasn’t good enough. I got so stuck in my own misery and low self-worth, that I was pushing away the very thing I had begged God for: a helper. God was answering my prayers through Danger, and all I could do was run and hide behind the lie of my hopeless state.
Through prayer and work, Danger and I got through my panic attacks. We got through all the nights I would text him because I couldn’t fall asleep. We got through the moments I would freak out and push him away when he got too close. I got better at letting him love me, and at loving him fiercely amid all the anxiety.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I had a really intense therapy session. It left me jumpy and angry and scared. By the time evening rolled around, I was being a total brat to Danger. I wouldn’t let him get near me. I snapped at him. I was not a nice girlfriend. Finally, I started crying and the truth came out (in between ugly-cry sobs):
Me, “I’m too messed up. I’ll never get better! What if I get worse? What if I go crazy? I’m not worth it.”
Danger knelt in front of me and thought for a second. He took my hand and replied, “Brittany, even if all of that happens, which it won’t, but even if it does, that does not make you any less worthy of a husband. You would still have the same dignity as you have now. You would still be worth loving and caring for. God answered your prayer, remember?”
And I was awestruck. Here was a man speaking of something I completely forgot about: unconditional love. Ever since my woe-is-me year of craptastic times, I assumed that I could only be loved if I was perfectly healed. I believed that love was conditional. And by doing so, I was lying to myself and keeping love out. And the worst of it all? I was learning to love conditionally, too. Danger had recently trusted me with stories of his past baggage (that none of us are immune to having), and when he did, I flipped out. I lost faith in our relationship, I lost hope. I was loving conditionally, something the old me used to work against. And now, here was Danger, showing me in 3D surround sound clarity, that he loved me unconditionally. He was striving for true love, even when loving me was like trying to hug a porcupine.
The truth is, real love is ridiculously, extremely hard. It has to be unconditional, which sometimes feels impossible for our feeble human hearts. But if we don’t strive for it, we sell ourselves short. Love cannot be conditional or it ceases to be love. I will add the caveat that sometimes we have to love from afar to keep ourselves safe, and to respect our own boundaries and limitations (I can’t ever seem to turn off my inner-therapist). But when it comes to loving those around us, that God has entrusted to our care, we must strive for unconditional love, a love that sees beyond brokenness, beyond pain, and beyond despair. We must have that same love for ourselves, as hopeless as we may feel. We must love – and let love in – with trust and hope in God’s infinite mercy and grace. Sometimes that requires sacrifice, sometimes it requires blind faith.
And sometimes, real love requires you to hold out your hand to someone who is huddled on the couch crying because they think they are unlovable.
I am forever grateful for all the times people have loved me unconditionally, and I hope to learn to love them back in the same way. Besides – what’s life without real love anyway?
“So give me hope in the darkness, that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright…
The ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life.” – Mumford and Sons