The heart, the heart

Honey load up your questions
And pick up your sticks and your stones
And pretend I’m a shelter for heartaches that don’t have a home
Choose the words that cut like a razor
And all that I’ll say is
Fire away
— Chris Stapleton

The human heart is a beautiful thing. It's the organ that symbolizes the seat of our soul. Without it, not a single one of us exists. We place our hands over it to convey emotion. We lend it to people we love who are in grief. We listen to it like it's the best song in the universe, because it is. 

Only the best things in life will ask us to put our hearts out there to risk like fools. While pain has taught us that love isn't a sure bet, our trust is still the most sacred thing we can give to someone.

The heart speaks without words. My best friend knew the exact moment her then-boyfriend was about to propose. She didn't find the ring beforehand, or get the tip-off from her friends. All she had to do was lean in for a hug and press her ear to his chest and there it was: a heart beating out of control. He was about to ask her the important question of their lives:

Will you love me forever?

The heart is a muscle and without an uphill battle or two, it atrophies. That means our hearts are made for the testing ground. By the very nature of our anatomy, we are built to exercise trust. That's a scary truth for most us. 

I don't trust easily. My default mode is skepticism. But if I want a life that's worth living, I have to to trust. Of all things, I'm scared of those Airblade dryers in the bathroom. I hate that feeling of sticking my hands out into empty space and waiting for something. It's freaky. I really don't know what I think will happen, it just feels like I'm in the carwash and when it's all over I might not get my antenna back. 

Maybe you've stretched your hands out into empty space and what you expected to receive didn't come. Or maybe your heart was on the chopping block in your last relationship and it's a miracle it is still beating in your chest. 

I'm with you, I'm with you, I'm with you.

I want you to know that your past hurts are not in control of your future. They are no indication of what's about to happen next. In fact, heartbreak is an exception to the rule of love. It's an ugly one, but it doesn't define who or what you are.

Only God's love does that. 

One of my favorite authors, Sheldon Vanauken, says this of love:

"But love is the final reality; and anyone who does not understand this, be he writer or sage, is a man flawed of wisdom.” 

Resist the lockbox

If we want to discover the richest reality of love, we must be willing to undergo the pain of trust. Without it, we have nothing.

One of the hardest things I always have to do post-heartbreak is to stare my disbelief in the face and decide not to choose it. This means resisting the temptation to lock my heart away from pain and allow it to harden in disillusionment. This means inviting the pain to pass through under one condition: I get to keep my hope. All of it.

Even when I screwed up and trusted the wrong person. Even when I "should have known better" and jumped the gun. Even when I was being a silly romantic and hoping for more than what materialized, I have to embrace this hopeful truth: my heart was made to hold. 

I similarly cannot make the mistake of wearing my heart like a sleeve ornament, dangling it in front of every passerby, hoping someone will take it captive. That's not only unrealistic, it's unfair to be vulnerable with someone who isn't ready for it. While insecurity might have a vise grip on our hearts, we cannot allow it to drive us toward relationships that aren't meant for us. 

Your heart is not a sleeve ornament or a lockbox. It's a heart alive and wild, irrational, bleeding and best to be on the edge of your seat when dealing with it.  

Let trust be in the lead, but don't let it wander too far away

Heartbreak is the biggest exception to the rule of love. It doesn't define what love is like, it just provides the contrast, like dark is to light. Trust is wasteful. Exceedingly so. It's also wasteful to love when other people push it away. But the very definition of love is to waste it, like wine overflowing in a cup. You have to waste what's good. Love does not exist in rations. 

The late John Paul II once said "The worst prison would be a closed heart." I wholeheartedly agree. While it's wasteful to trust, I've toyed with it's opposite and cynicism is by no means a better option. Something people do as a means to avert trust is being noncommittal. Skirting trust by not investing means minimal damage right? I wish it were true.

The least trustworthy among us are those who aren't willing to take any kind of leap. They just sit and watch while others fall on their faces. Like Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" we have to be participants, those who fail while daring greatly. When I'm scared, I gravitate toward the idea that I am "saving my energy" for something when the truth is, I'm just afraid. I don't want to get to the end of my life and be the girl who had good intentions. I want to waste my potential, all of it, now, like a kid who just got her trust fund money. That's what love does, I think.