“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
This quote above is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but THEE TRUTH!
For so long I’ve tried to avoid love because the little bit of my heart that I have put out there in the past, knowing less about love than I do now, got crushed! Then it was almost inevitable to build a wall around my heart because of the hurt. Actually, it seems like it is a subconscious defense mechanism in our make up that goes into auto mode to protect our hearts after they have been burnt by love. In some cases, 3rd degree burns!
Well…I almost gave up on love… or I should say, allowing myself to love. I have made some bad decisions when it comes to what I thought was love and so have the people (in this regard, men) that have tried to love me. What did we really know about love then, anyway? Shoot! What do we really know about love now?! I have had endless conversations about love. I know 1 Corinthians 13 almost by heart. I have read so many books and have watched documentaries on what love is and how to love better and have even preached on love. I have heard the love stories and people’s testimonies about love and their relationships. Every time I think I have learned all there is about love, another situation or circumstance teaches me that I… know… NOTHING!
Going back to what I was saying, I really, ALMOST, gave up on love. After my last failed attempt I started to feel like I out grew “love”. “Love” was for the young and the innocent; not slowly-becoming-jaded, almost 30 years old, individuals like me… until… I got the opportunity to try it one mo’ time! I was apprehensive at first… as a matter of fact, I was – straight up! – against it at first! However, after being coached by my mom and spiritual father, I finally gave in and tried my hand at it again…. and let me tell you! The experience is more or less summed up in the quote above. It ain’t EASY! Especially for me!
Loving someone else has required me to become vulnerable. Do you know what that means? That means the wall that I have spent building block by block around my heart had to slowly start coming down… by my own hands! It is like purposely putting myself in harm’s way! I have to swallow my pride and say and do what my pride would normally not allow me to. I had to learn (and I am still learning) that to love without inhibitions requires me to humble myself and expose my heart which, in turn, also exposes my weaknesses. This, Reader, is VERY DIFFICULT for a woman like me! Being raised by a single mom and single women and having friends who were raised by single moms, all my life I have been taught to be strong and independent of others, especially men. I did not know what it was to share my life and every part of me with someone else. Unfortunately, what I also did not know (just like the women who raised me) is, by living this way, I was setting up myself to be alone for the rest of my life; never experiencing what it is to be loved by a man or to love one. Deep in my heart, though my mind and mouth said something different, my heart yearned to love someone else. I used to feel bad desiring love not knowing it was a natural and beautiful desire not a desperate and weak one.
So, I chose love and companionship.
I have had beautiful experiences in this love. I have learned and grown in this love. I have learned to appreciate a man’s worth and the compliment that a good man is to a woman and vice versa. I have experienced moments of euphoria in this love. I have become more grateful and less prideful because of this love… but I have also been hurt and have cried because of this love. I have been confused and sometimes left feeling apathetic in this love. I have been left exposed with all my “ugly-ies” showing (using the term that my bestfriend uses) in this love. I have been left silent and humbled in this love. I have also come, from time to time, to the point of giving up on this love. Yet, I’m still standing in this love.
Sometimes it amazes me that I am still standing here in this love but you know why I’m still standing? I have seen for myself what loveless-ness can do to a person. I have seen how people have shut out everyone to protect themselves from the pain of love and missed out completely on the gift that love is. I have seen too many people end up alone, by their choosing, because of their fear of the pain that love can bring. I have seen people give up and walk away from something, that in time, would grow to be beautiful because they lack the patience and sense of commitment. I have seen hearts become cold because they choose not to love again… and, simply put, I do not want that to be me.
Besides this, I am tired of starting all over again. It takes a lot to heal from a bad relationship, then to have to open your heart all over again for a new one is just as emotionally exhausting. If I’m going to have a relationship, at this time in my life, I want it to be with one person from now until death do us part. No more relationship hopping or “space-filler-ships” (I believe that term is self explanatory.) At my age… and not even my age but point of understanding, I’m ready to settle down and work it out with one person who is willing to do the same.
The most important reason why I’m still standing in this love is because of Jesus. I told the Lord that I want to love like him. Who better to learn how to love from! Every time I feel like giving up I am reminded about the unconditional love God has towards us. Each time I get hurt in this love I am reminded about how many times I have hurt the Lord and yet He has forgiven and will continue to forgive. Who am I not to do the same? When I become judgmental in this love, I am reminded of my own short comings, how I don’t like to be judged so I should not judge either. When this love seems like it makes no sense and I am just not feeling it, I am reminded that Jesus did not continue in His love toward us by how he felt but through obedience. When I feel like I have no more patience in this love, the Lord reminds me of His promises and the good that comes to those who wait on Him and His time. When I feel like this love is over, I am reminded of what God’s word says: He will perfect and complete what He has started until the day of Jesus Christ. When I feel like I am sacrificing too much for this love, I am reminded that the Lord said that we will reap what we sow. If I continue to sow unconditional love I will reap the fruits. I can go on and on about what the Spirit of God reveals to me. God is THE major factor for me standing. Period.
My perspective has definitely changed when it comes to relationships and love. I had to realize (and I am still realizing) that to have what I want, which is a relationship that stands the test of time, I have to be willing to put in the work and take every thing that comes with this journey and remain standing or get right back up when I have been knocked down. Nothing worth having comes easy. It sounds cliché but its TRUE! Relationships and remaining in love is WORK! Your blood, sweat and tears have to go into it! And if I am not willing to be vulnerable in this love and give everything I have got, even if it fails (which it won’t! I stand on that!) then I will never experience its TRUE beauty it has to offer or the person that God desires for me to become while on this journey.
Furthermore, love is divine and for one to experience it in its entirety one needs the guidance, knowledge and wisdom that come from the Creator. You cannot understand the transcendence of love if you do not see people and this world through God’s eyes. Our understanding of love is so limited and finite. That is why it will take more than a lifetime to comprehend it…
Some important things I have learned so far is :
- Love is not instant. You do not fall in love, you grow in love. It matures, strengthens and deepens over time.
- In love, the euphoric feelings or “infatuation” are not always going to be there (and those “acts” of infatuation may cease) but that does not mean it is no longer present or thriving.
- Love is NOT uncontrollable. To love is a choice. You have to choose to walk in it every day even when the “feelings” are not there.
- Love is “in spite of” not “because of”.
- Love is stifled by pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, dishonesty and quitting.
- Love sees the good and helps to eliminate the bad.
- Love is optimistic and hopeful.
- Love is committed.
I am still very new in this love and I still have a hec of a lot to learn, but I have seen progress in this love. I have seen changes. I have learned more than before, gone farther than before and sacrificed more than before trusting and knowing that I will reap more than before. It is not easy and sometimes the vulnerability can be most unbearable for me. Nonetheless, I want to be loved and I want to love… and to love is to be… vulnerable.
Finally! I got to go to Paris! Would have liked it to be a little warmer but a cool Spring day wasn’t that bad. Of course, I didn’t automatically hear accordion music like on TV (which, for some reason, I heard in my head when I saw myself in Paris. lol) but everything about it was “Parisien”.
I took the line B train on the RER from the airport to Chatelet where I met my cousin and he took me around. I did not take as much pictures as I intended to because we spent more time talking and enjoying each other’s company.
We went for a late lunch at Chipotle. Yeah! They have Chipotle there! There’s like only 2 of them in all of Paris. I love Chipotle! So when he mentioned it to me I was ready to go! You would think I would have had some “French” food as a tourist but honestly, I just wanted something to eat and something good and Chipotle sounded just about right to my taste buds.
After we ate, we jumped on the train and continued my sightseeing:
As soon as the train came from the underground to outside you could see the Eiffel Tower. When we got closer I realized it was much bigger than I thought. I don’t know why I thought it was smaller. There were armed officers walking around the area. My cousin told me that ever since 911 they have had more military security around the Tower. I guess to intimidate “terrorists.”
There were a lot of “lovey dovey” couples on the Eiffel Tower grounds. Just like in the movies. **rolls eyes** There was one couple in particular that was lying in the grass. They were a very young couple. The young guy, however, was lying completely on top of the young lady while he was kissing her out in the open. Not under a tree or on the side on a bench but out in the open grass by themselves which made them stand out. It was so obviously out in the open it made me uncomfortable and embarrassed for them. I guess I was not the only one feeling that way because two officers passing by on bicycles made them stop. lol
Paris is beautiful but its “romance” is totally commercial to me. I did not feel like I needed to be there with my boo just because it was Paris. Romance is dependent on the persons not necessarily a place. Well…then again, a place can encourage romance… but it is still dependent on the individuals. For me, a tropical setting would be more romantic than Paris. Anyway, all the couples looked happy and in “Louvre”. LOL!
Later my cousin took me to see the rest of the family. Paris is quite small… and everything in it too! The streets are small, the cars are small, the houses are small, the garbage cans are small, etc. It’s cute though. I liked the area where my cousin took me. I forgot the name of the place but it was very clean and quaint and all the trees were green and in full bloom. I also like the modern French homes. I loved how they have long windows and incorporated a bit more color on the outside than I’m used to seeing in other European countries that I’ve visited.
I definitely want to go back for a longer period of time… during the summer.