What changes in you the moment you fall in love (with your life)

Romance is the richest of hopes I carry around in my heart. 

It splashes through puddles with me. It stares back in the silent glass of a lake. It chases me like a kid as I leap off the dock into cold water. It reminds me that I am whole, and part of something bigger. It tells me that love will come knocking on my door any day now.

This childlike expectation of romance is something I guard fiercely

Anything that threatens it, I am careful to fend off, because the pearl it is guarding, is my hope.

The scriptures say in Romans 10:11 "Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed." Let the record stand: I believe it. So I am living my life in active resistance to the disappointment that will inevitably invade it. I want something better than the status quo of life after heartbreak, and I'm confident you do too. 

I want a triumphant resurgence of hope, like a queen coming for her throne, and the only way to find it is to go out into the world and boldly claim it

One of the most common mistakes I've made as I've navigated the romance of relationships is letting that prized place of contentment go by the wayside to date a few different men. Letting "just anyone" in is a fatal mistake I've made more than once.

 The mistake looks like treading lightly in a relationship, daring not to ask for too much. The mistake looks like taking a backseat to an ex-girlfriend who still comes around. The mistake looks like being an afterthought in the backdrop of a busy schedule.

"No more." Says my heart. That road, I will steer clear of, if not for my heart's sake, then for my precious hope. It is the best thing I have. It points me toward truth, and I will protect it with my life. Because without hope, what is there left to care about?

So you might be wondering, what exactly are the remaining ingredients to falling in love with your life?

1. Anchor to hope like it's your job

Put up a fight. Yes, a fight, against things that threaten to steal your source of hope. This means pessimistic acquaintances, fatalistic worldviews, being on Facebook post-presidential election. Purge anything, electronic or otherwise, that invites a steady stream of negativity into your immediate awareness. I think many of us (ok maybe just me) can also include sarcasm on that list. It's easy to get carried away with what we say by using humor as a mask. Words are damaging, and a cheap commodity in an age where they can be shared any time of day on every conceivable platform. Don't let anything come after your hope, and if it tries, take drastic measures to shut it down before it gets out of control.

2. Cultivate a practice of deep gratitude for your life

After we place our anchor in hope, the second thing we do is to recollect the things in life that bless us. We can do this sitting alone in front of a fire with a simple prayer or a journal. It doesn't have to be sexy or complicated. It can just be a cup of coffee every morning in your spare 15 minutes when you can focus on the absolute miracle that you are alive. 

Remember the words of Ann Lamott: "Gratitude is a magnetic energy that draws people to us."

 Notice the face of the person passing you and smile at them. Take longer to enjoy every bite of a meal. Gratitude takes many forms, but for me, it means turning to the giver of all perfect gifts in my life. It means recognizing God who is the steady constant source of all things good to me. Staying aware of that simple fact opens my heart. It prepares me for taking delight in the slow moments of life by saying "Wow, thanks!"

3. Revisit people, places, and sources of inspiration that spark joy, over and over again

Lately, this has been music for me, and a long stretch of road where I can explore my thoughts.  Being in my Subaru is a place that sparks joy, oddly enough. It was recently in the shop for a week and it made me realize how much an adventure companion my car is. A source of inspiration for you might be a really good author, a lakeside respite, or a long, dangerously hot shower. Do us all a favor and find out what yours is immediately. 

As the days count down to winter, time rushes into a mess of holidays and the wild beauty of summer freezes over, make me a promise that you will not stop falling in love with what these lessons of flying solo offer you.

What changes in you, at the moment you fall in love with your life, is you become what you admire. A light, brave, unburdened thing. A presence where romance follows closely behind. Believe in this process. Push through the disappointment and the unbelievable temptation to despair. There is something waiting for you on the other side of the status quo, and the runway is short, so start running!