Halfway through the movie Makenzie’s winter break shenanigans caught up with her. She was out like a light. After struggling for a bit she finally found a way to turn my arms and body into the perfect temporary mattress. She placed her arm behind my back and fell asleep hugging me. Her arm rested between my back and the theatre seat. Each time I felt her body give in to slumber I lifted my body to relieve the weight from her delicate arm. Within minutes she began to toss and turn, she’d hug me, and return her arm to the same uncomfortable position.
Our struggle continued until it hit me I did the same thing as a child.
I remember begging my mother for a chance to sleep with her when I was little. I’d make all the promises I could, then while finally lying in my parent’s bed I was afraid. I was wrapped in their tiger print comforter and surrounded by statues of various animals from around the world. Lions, leopards, elephants, and more! From the eyes of a child their room looked like an actual zoo. I wasn’t too afraid for an occasional sleepover though. I just needed my arm to be tucked underneath my mom. I needed to know I wasn’t alone even if I was afraid. I needed her to know that her weight was grounding me, even though she may have feared it was hurting me.
Somewhere in the years between my sleepovers in my parent’s room and the 4:00pm showing of Saving Mr. Banks on Monday I forgot that love doesn’t care how much you weigh. I suspect I forgot it much earlier than the start of our movie. I’m willing to bet it started slipping away the first time I had to ask for forgiveness from someone I loved. Some time between blissful innocence and the seduction of trouble I had to look my parent’s in the eyes and ask them to give me another chance. In the silence of their deliberating pause I wondered would they really give me a clean slate or would they say the words and keep a record. I stayed in line, did what I was supposed to, and things always returned to love. Conviction kept me out of a lot of trouble.
Their love found a way to bear the weight of disappointment. My love found a way to trust the power of forgiveness. Our love found a way because we gave it no other choice. No one in our family has been perfect. I’m sure if we could we’d make a few edits to our histories, but still through our letdowns love has always found a way. Maybe we aren’t as afraid of loving someone unconditionally as we are of the possibility that they may not reciprocate.
Falling, staying, and growing in love are all three separate battles. Each of them carrying their own weight. So often we settle for becoming one another’s symptom and not each other’s partner: I want you to love me so I can love myself. I know a few of us have been guilty of falling in love with wanting to be loved, but merely just liking the actual person. But maybe true love is about finding the one worth hurting over.
A mother loves a child so much from conception that she’s willing to hurt physically to bring that love to life. Woman was formed for man to love from Adam’s rib. For God so loved the world that He gave His only son. All this time we’ve been focused on how to avoid hurt. We never learned that our love is strong enough to bear the weight of the one worth hurting for. Love is not protection from pain, only strength to bear it.
I haven’t always had the patience required to let true love grow because I always looked for the holes where pain could seep in. Each time I found pain I stopped watering the seeds that flourished love.
This is not about me avoiding the pain anymore. I’ve come to recognize that pain is as necessary a part of life as air. This isn’t about me being afraid anymore either. I’ve learned to dance around my fears. This is me realizing that love without sacrifice is not true love at all. Our arms must be willing to bear the weight of another. Our backs must trust the arm is depending on something bigger than ourselves. You can’t have my back unless God has yours.
…..and this is my pledge to the hearts I love:
I can’t offer you perfect. I don’t know the price of my future and I can’t promise it won’t cost you pain. I can’t be certain I’ve confronted every memory that has troubled me, but each day I learn the power of sharing my burdens with Him. I wish I could tell you I’d be cautious enough to handle your brokenness, but I haven’t always done the best job with my own. I promise to wrap your pain with my love and give it to God. I know that He can heal the wounds you’re not ready to let me see. I know He can give me grace to survive the cuts I may endure from loving you. I know this because I’ve given Him my best and worst, yet He still deemed me worthy of loving you. So I will love you with all of the God I have in me. I constantly strive to live a life that opens new streams for His love to flow from within me. I won’t always get it right. I’ll try not to, but against all my will I still may hurt you. But I have a pledge for that: I’m worth hurting for too…
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