The Road to Love

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Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

The sweltering outdoor conditions in middle Tennessee is an indication that we are approaching the second season of the year. Time is racing by, too fast in my opinion. Like everyone else, I have big plans for 2013. I don’t want the year to quickly pass by and I have not accomplished any of my goals.

I set my sights high, but I believe they are in reach. I want to be love and I want to fall in love as captured in my One Word Resolution. I’ve been exercising love at every chance and proud to say that I did not fall victim to New Year’s resolution statistics – abandoning my resolution after a month.

The goals that I mapped out for myself have been challenging and led me in unexpected directions – road blocks, adversaries, discomfort, and even a taste of excitement.

Today, I accept the challenge presented before me and to others who have embarked on the journey of One Word Resolutions. I am to post a mile-marker blog on how the word has shaped up so far. What an unbelievable journey it has been 🙂

  1. Accept first challenge – myself.

I naively thought love was going to be easily attainable. I was going to fall right in like diving into a refreshing pool. Wrong. Although I hungered for it, I was not quite ready to sit down and eat. I was scared, a bit of a coward. I feared the pain of opening myself back up. I was reluctant to carve out the space that love needed to fill.  For some strange reason, I grabbed my shovel and began picking at the hardened soil of my heart. Every encounter, experience began creating a new home for love.

2.  Pray for love with expectancy.

God deeply convicted me that I did not fully believe in myself and that I actually deserved to be loved. Deep rooted wounds of rejection and abandonment covered every square inch of my heart like cancer invades the body. As a result, I gave the ho-hum approach to prayer – halfheartedly pray because nothing would come true anyway.  I’ve learned that prayers are answered when you believe.

3. Educate myself on the real meaning of love.

Apparently, I was taught the wrong meaning of love. Life gave me a second class education on that subject. My knowledge of the word and my approach to it was totally wrong. I thought in order to receive love, you had to be perfect – blameless, no imperfections. I thought the person you were in love with had to be perfect too. You had to have the perfect little union, you know, do everything right all the time.

As this former teacher heads back into the classroom, I am presented with a new teacher and a new syllabus. I am learning that love is more than compassion, romance, laughter, and warmth. It is intrusive. It pops its head in without a notice or an invitation. It’s persistent and somewhat direct. It’s messy and a tad on the crazy side – impractical, erratic, and unusual.

It’s not perfect, but it’s genuine, thoughtful, and respectful. It creates a soft place in your hardened heart, leaves a smile on your face, and it leaves you hungry for more.

4. Accept the invitation to love.

God’s been knocking on the door of my heart for years now, but I never really let Him in. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t for fear of letting go of control and honoring my vow to never be hurt again. God was persistent. He sent various vessels of love my way. Finally, I accepted and He began to heal my fears of rejection and unworthiness – wounds that have haunted me for most of my life.

5. Defeat the enemy – myself.

I was born to act. I played many parts on stage and in my own life. My most frequent role was the enemy. I carried around feelings of disbelief, doubt, and unworthiness for most of my life.

I fully gave myself to others, like in my performances, but never opened up the door to receive the love that I deserved.  As the door is opened, kind words like,  “you are beautiful”, “you are brilliant”, “you are inspiring”, rush in unleashing belief. They melt away the layers of my frigid heart a little at a time. With every word I swallow, the wound dies a little bit more till eventually there is no more.

6. Close the door to the past.

Recently, I read this quote “How do you know when it’s over? Maybe when you feel more in love with your memories, than with the person standing in front of you.” My response, “I think you know when your heart has made the connection that the mind already knows. It’s over and it has been over.”

After making this connection, I wrote a letter to the great love of my life – the one whom I thought I would marry. I thanked him for reviving my lifeless heart and discreetly said goodbye.

7. Swim in a pool of vulnerability.

The book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown challenged me to take a risk and walk head on into vulnerability and engage with my whole heart.

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

Instead of walking, I belly-flopped in. It was painful at first, but I find myself  lounging around in the pool with no immediate plans of getting out.

8. Build something new – trust.

This brings me to the present – the middle of the year.  I am in a place of rebuilding. Love completely bulldozed the strong, impassable tower which I labored over for years and left me with new land to build on. I am building confidence in someone based on their word, their character, and their actions. I am building trust.

As I write this, I am overcome with waves of emotions. I choke back tears as I stroll down memory lane, revisiting the stops along this journey. The short journey has been filled with bumps in the road, but the closer I get to destination, the easier the path becomes.

If you were to survey your own road to love, what would it look like? Would you still be wrapped up in yourself? Would you be too afraid to love again? Do you feel unworthy of love? Would you still be hung up in the past hoping things would work out? Better yet, would you be taking risks and building something new?

Your response will be different just like your road to love is different. I think it doesn’t necessarily matter how you travel it, just as long as you reach the final destination 🙂

Stay tuned for a post year recap…

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