For almost 20 years I wandered around looking for this elusive thing called love. According to Wikipedia:
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Love may also be described as actions towards others or oneself based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.
Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.
Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.
That is all well and good but like a lot of life it was not as easy to put into practice. For me, after losing a friend and then my father to car accidents at age 19, I shut down and decided I didn’t need love. Pushing away friends and family for a period of time and just dwelling in my own world. I was still looking for things like love, but never really was able to give or receive it while being emotionally locked down. The fortress was solid, the walls high and the inner workings idling but never revving. As it turned out nineteen is an interesting age for that to happen since most guys go through that period for a few months or a year.
I was in that shut down, emotionally closed off period of life for 7 or so years until someone tried to break me out. She was great and amazing but her eventual rejection brought up all the past rejections again. It brought up a lot of pain and brokenness that did not allow me to trust.
“Do you trust anyone?”
“How about yourself? Or your family? Or God?”
-Nope. I don’t think they have my best interest and I apparently don’t either.
Those might not have been my exact words, but in 2009 I uttered something like that to a counselor…who then teared up and said he was sorry that the world was not a safe place for me. We took a couple years to get through some of those issues, but I came out the other side victorious…mostly.
In the midst of those years, I started looking more actively for love. I was pursuing what I knew as love. It wasn’t always what love is, apparently, because it hurt, stung or made me drunk for a couple hours. The dates weren’t defined, so the rejection wasn’t as harsh. The calling just ended, and was often my fault. The words and feelings were dealt with, to an extent, and laughed at by confided in friends. It was fun most of the time.
Then, it wasn’t. I realized I had fake love in 5 area codes, 3 country codes, and a couple Facebook profiles. How was I to trust anyone when I couldn’t trust myself? So I gave them all up. I let some of them go. I confessed fake, or projected, love to others and reconciled a couple more. More dudes were confided in for advice. A couple more girls entered the outer gates of the fortress but never were issued a treasure map to the hidden passage way. Eventually those who were trying to be close gave up and no more invites were given out.
It seemed like a good day to renovate. To open up a couple windows and air the place out. To dispose of some old souvenirs that held more hurt than pleasant memories. While cleaning up the corners and deep recesses I was allowed the chance to see some amazing examples of love in those around me. Love that isn’t written about but simply lived out. The examples of friends and families loving each other whether in spousal relations or in neighborhood, employment or community realms. I started noticing more and more how people made time for each other and just listened. I started taking notes and planning when I would be done with the cleaning process…figuring the fortress needed to be cleaned well before anyone would want to come in or should be invited.
The yellow caution tape was put up… and this metaphor is losing steam.
As the old adage goes, when you aren’t looking you will find what you want and need. Or something like that.
Last Christmas Eve, I was minding my own business doing what I needed to do relationally—preparing a Christmas dinner for 200+ people when circumstances set me up. Only one girl stayed more than a few minutes to decorate. Since both of us were holiday orphans and had nowhere else to be we worked for about 3 hours together decorating significantly better than the previous year…and talking and towards the end I started admiring her smile and joy in life.
That girl quickly became a woman and something special to me. Hannah walked past all the caution tape and somehow found the secret pathway into the fortress like she had been given the code and map by a higher power.
For almost 20 years, I had been searching for this elusive thing called love. Looking high and low, in corners and rooftops, in person and on phones. And yet that elusive thing called love simply showed up one day in a greater way than I would have ever imagined. A way that in two months has made me a better man than in the 200 months previous. The way that makes me wonder if dreams do come true and if Hollywood is writing my life story right now. In a way that things just feel right…including the timing.
More about the amazing Hannah in the coming weeks…stay tuned.