An Intentional Love

The holidays stir up so many things for all of us. Some are good things, some bad. For  a lot of us, the holidays stir up negative emotions. Maybe we lost someone close to us, or family problems that happened around this time of the year. The holidays always bring up a strange emotion for me. This time of year causes me to be particularly aware of where I am in life, and who is, or isn’t in my life. Christmas, in particular, causes me to think about how we all love one another.

almost 2 years ago I came out of an almost 4 year relationship. Since that time, I have had what ended up being a very crucial time of growing up, figuring out who I really am, and taking responsibility for my life. One of the things that was really hard for me for that first year or so was coping with the reality of this void that was now in my life. When we broke up, I lost my best friend. I also lost all my other friends (if you could call them that). I was set to endure a very long and lonely summer. It didn’t take long before I fell into my old patterns of desperately grasping at any potential future relationship, in an attempt to feel SOME type of connection or “love” from anyone. It had been my pattern for a long time. This was a pattern that caused me to make some really bad decisions, and caused me to be a very unhappy person for a very long time.

 

Eventually, I started to realize that maybe I needed to do something about this recurring pattern of “relationship hopping”, and take some time to figure all this out… to figure myself out. That ended up being a much larger endeavor that I had originally thought. As time went on, I started to grow more discontent with myself, and my life. I began to understand myself more, and the more I learned about myself, the more I realized that I didn’t like those parts of my character. I always wanted to be the strong, confident, self-aware, well-rounded character in the story. I thought I WAS that character. As it turned out, I was much closer to the depressed, suicidal, institutionalized character in stories that make you feel bad for them. Those characters usually don’t make it to the end of the last chapter.

As I began this journey of self discovery…or whatever you want to call it…I began to understand how much of life I had been missing out on, due to my consuming addiction to relationships. I think probably most people go through this stage of what I would call an addiction to relationships at some point in their lives. Some people don’t get past it. Some people get married while they’re still in this phase of life, causing them to make bad choices, based on poor judgment by an individual glamoured by an inaccurate sense of romance…hopeless romance. Most of us probably buy into this at some point in our lives. But eventually, we are forced to recognize the falsehood of such grand expectations of this thing we call “love”.

 

Within the last year, I have begun to make a change in the way I view love and relationships. For the first time in my life, I am no longer concerned with whether or not I am IN a serious relationship. I feel confident in who I am, with or without anyone else. I know what I want in life, and I know what I’m willing to do to get it. Its quite a freeing feeling to be open to any possible scenario for your life. What I know for sure is that I want a family one day. But I’m okay with it not being today.

Love is a tricky thing. Love is this thing we tell ourselves is a feeling that we feel for someone. That would be lie number one. If we let ourselves believe that love is nothing more than a feeling that we feel for special people in our lives, we reduce the concept of love to nothing more than attraction, and our chemical reactions to one another. Love has to be more than that! Throughout history people have believed that love could change the entire course of society and culture. It has been thought that love could end wars, cure diseases,  and solve the problem of poverty. Why couldn’t love do this? According to the Bible, love is something we may never fully understand, because it does not originate with us. If love was born as much more than a concept, in an entirely different world than ours, then how could we understand it? Love is what set this world into motion. All of creation exists because of the love of its creator. If love is why I’m here, then love should mean more to me than a mere feeling!

 

Love should be an ideal, an ideal that drives all other dreams, notions, thoughts, and desires. If we seek to attain love from the source of love, maybe we could change a nation! Maybe we could stop poverty, or end wars. Who knows…. What I do know is, when I started understanding that love was more than what I was dumbing it down to, It completely changed the way I thought about everyone around me. I started viewing all relationships in my life under a new light. Suddenly, people meant something to me again. They meant more to me than what I could get from them. I began to see people as…well…PEOPLE! It was at this point that I decided that I had been wrongfully loving people throughout my life.

 

When my perspective on love changed, my perspective on relationships changed. It was then that I realized, I don’t NEED to be with anyone in a serious relationship. Simple concept, right? Its much deeper than that, though. By acknowledging that I don’t need someone, I reached a new stage in my life, one where I was able to see things in a much more positive way. Maybe the last couple of years has been a time to learn to be responsible so I can take care of a family one day. Maybe the people I have in my life are placed there to teach me how to love people in all circumstances. Maybe I need to learn how to wait for the things in life that are worth waiting for.

 

One day, I know I will love someone well. I have long sought to be a good husband and a good dad one day. Its actually a major desire of my heart to be those things. I wait in anticipation and excitement for what God may have for me in the future. But for now, I am learning to be content with what I have, and who I have in my life. I am thankful for such great friends. I am grateful for great examples of love in my life, and such strong support from married couples in my life who have become friendships I cherish dearly. There are three couples in my life I can think of right now that have been hugely influential in helping me to get to where I am (shameless shout out!: Jonny and Jess, Josh and Cailin, and Taylor and Lauren, you guys are amazing! Thanks for being a part of my life and supporting me and believing in me!), and for that I am really grateful. These couples make me excited to have a family.

People ask me if I could have one quality in a spouse, what would it be? I used to have a list… I wanted someone who was loving, sweet, caring, selfless, loved to serve, maybe musical, artistic, adventurous, faithful, confident, etc…

As time has gone on, I see what is truly important in life. I’ve realized the only quality I want is someone who can be my best friend. If you can’t be my best friend then we probably won’t like each other after a while. Attraction only carries you so far. Once the infatuation wears off after a year or two, its the friendship that carries you. There’s a point where love stops being a feeling, and starts being a verb. I believe this is true in all relationships, not just the one with our spouse. We may not be ATTRACTED to our same sex friendships, but we may be attracted to the idea of a friendship with a particular person, but once that wears off, its the real connections with the people in our lives that make us fight for the people we care about. We don’t always like the people we love. Sometimes we don’t even want to talk to them or see them, but love can overcome those things. Love is what makes us swallow our pride and do the things that are counter-intuitive to our very being. Love is what causes us to do the things we would never do on our own. When we belittle love to a feeling, we miss out on the adventure of the journey that is loving someone. We miss out on sharing in life together. We miss out on experiencing the fullness of what God intended for us to know through the means of relationships.
I feel as though I am in a good place in this stage in my life. I’m excited for the chapter in my story where I get to love someone truly and fully, but for now I’m ok with flying solo, as long as I’m where I’m supposed to be. If someone comes along, I’ll be ready for them… and you have no idea how excited I am to be able to say that.

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