Love is a paradox, darling

Love is described as a flame most times. A bright light that leads us out of dark spaces. Dostoyevsky once said that the inability to love is the ultimate hell. The Bible says that without love, life is a meaningless void. Love is powerful but spontaneous. We can’t make the real kind happen to us anymore than we can will ourselves to win the lottery. And if we can’t do anything to earn it, true love must visit us on its own terms.

And if love hasn’t won us yet or whisked us off onto a great new adventure, we can feel a little lost. Maybe left out or even rejected. I’ve felt this way too. I’ve learned how love is a hard verb. It’s not always the whimsical fantasy I once dreamed of and yes, it too can double you over with the pain of a broken heart.

A broken heart is no small thing

I’ve lived through one myself. I calculated the risk, for a very long time, of ever letting my heart be handed over to anyone or anything, ever again.

But do you know what? I did and I still do. Because the resilient afterglow of heartache is one of my favorite parts of God’s redemptive work in my life. Hear me: It’s not a reason to make mistakes or risk too much for what will only disappoint you in the end.  But the good news for all of us is, there’s beauty in the aftermath. And it’s ongoing. I am still experiencing the newness of life God’s birthed out of heartbreak. That’s why I talk about it so much.

In my greatest fear (not being worthy of love) is where God met me. And my heart heard him loud and clear when he said: “Your heart is made to hold.”  It was hard to hear anything but the voice of regret and cynicism and closing up shop to leave my poor broken heart for dead. But dear ones, that is not what your heart is for. It was made to be held, not just by imperfect human beings, but by God himself. Why? Because God extends his heart first, to be broken by us. He allows himself to feel pain, and if you control the universe don’t exempt yourself from it’s pain, that is no small thing.

If it’s true that God wore skin like you and me, he knows our broken hearts as well as we do.

Your broken heart waiting to be loved 

Your broken heart has already been won by the greatest lover himself, and he’s waiting for you to come alive and claim it. Even if you are single, you are asked to participate, now. There are no special qualifications, no “squeaky clean past” police. You are right in the middle of the greatest love story you will ever know and all that is needed is to say “yes”. How radical is that? I need reminding as much as the next, when I fall out of love with this reality, when I settle for disappointment and the cheap reality TV version of romance offered me, when I forget my first love. I write this to remind myself of the great God-love that holds my heart: I stand on the hill of Calvary, fully won by your love.

It can’t be romance that I’m waiting for, because it’s already here! It’s now. But my selfishness keeps me from experiencing the greatest love story that ever happened.  It’s the same problem I bump into everywhere: at work, on Facebook, in family relationships, I want to be the main character. I want to be the receiver of this love, not the giver. I want to be captivating, not captivated. I want to consume this God-love and not give anything back. But that is my narcissism, not love. Before the emptying comes the refilling. I can do nothing without first accepting God’s love for me. Not because it adds to my happiness, because it defines me. Remember how love visits us on its own terms?

The romance you long for is right here, in the present, waiting for you

A gift you don’t have to feel worthy of.  A gift offered in joy. It’s the gift of God-love and it is the key to unfolding all that life and creative energy and grace you’re ready to show the world. It is the remedy to feeling as if there’s no stage for you to dance on, or room with an audience to hear you, no person for you to share love with.

Because there is someone to share it with, someone who rejoices over you with singing, someone who delights in knowing the color of your eyes and why you get all crazy and clean everything when you’re stressed out.

I want to live a life of epic Romance and Adventure and to do very brave things in the name of love as my friend Morgan likes to say. Is it possible, my shy heart asks, without a man in my life right now?

A thousand times yes.

That familiar need to love someone, feeling all locked up inside of you is just begging to come out like a brilliant idea with no canvas to express. And you feel stuck with it. And you say, what does this really have to do with romantic love? And I say absolutely everything. Love of life and others will always be a choice you must set free. Love must act, or as a witty author named Bob once said: Love goes out and does stuff. Because love is crazy and stupid like that, and so are you.

And here’s how you do it:

1. Say yes to love and don’t just say it, do something. Show us how you mean it.

2. Be the most ridiculous cheerleader of hope you know.

3. Don’t defame the name of love

4. Wave the white flag of surrender to heartache

5. Be the paradox, darling

Love will break your heart dear ones, more than once. And heartbreak is something like holding onto fire without letting it burn you. A bleeding heart is a heart alive. A cold dead heart is no good to you. Don’t lock yours away, don’t kill your desires because you’ve been wounded and don’t paint someone else’s story with your own tragedies. I’m telling you it’s an easy mistake to make. Avoid some of my mistakes and subscribe!

Show hope and grace for other people’s stories and how they unfold. Not every trial you’ve experienced will be theirs, don’t bear envy for another’s happiness. Give others room to express even their flaws in love.  Be a hopeless romantic, even when others see nothing to be romantic about! You are the paradox darling, and you’re lovely. Be single and in love. Many stories will look different than yours, so put down that silly measuring stick. Start loving your story.

I am not a powerful woman, or a brave one, but...

I am a single woman in love

I’m won by love and chosen (by no merit of my own) to act out a great and timeless love story. This hope is yours for the taking too. Not because you are wise or deserve your happily ever after right now. Not because you’ve earned it. Because love visited you on it’s own terms. Love wore your battered, broken heart and love’s name is Jesus. And being “his” means you are to romance the present; to be in love, right now.