I used to make decisions based on signs; I swore by them.
Signs I somehow justified to be from God.
Like, when I decided to attend college as a pre-med, refusing to declare any major other than something medically related. I had gone through a fair share of injuries as a competitive athlete, and that was a sign destining me to fulfill my calling as an orthopedic surgeon. And then there were those times I would drive on the freeway and see cars passing by—same model and make as the boy I was hardcore liking. It was an obvious sign not to give up on the relationship even though he claimed he never liked me back. And then there were those conditions where I would decide that him and I needed space, so I would intentionally stop sending him text messages and refuse to be the one to initiate conversation. But if he eventually did text or call me about something and wanted to hang out, then it was a clear sign that we were still supposed to talk.
I think about those situations now, and all I can think about how silly I was being. My naivety game was real strong. And so along the way, I’ve learned that you can’t always base life off of signs, and you sure as hell can’t navigate relationships because of some made up voices inside your head convincing you that maybe, just maybe he loved you and was just too afraid to fess up to it. Because let’s be real: He probably didn’t love you that much, if even at all.
Four little letters.
One big meaning.
Makes or breaks—EVERYTHING.
We tend to toss that word around like a hot potato. One second we love something, next second we don’t. We love coffee. We don’t love that new single that just dropped on the radio. We love eating. We don’t love that sweater. We love pie. Okay, maybe that’s just me. But everything is BAE or nay. And we used the “L” word to describe said things. I will be the first one to stand up and admit that I’m absolutely 100% guilty of it all.
One night, years ago, my friend and I decided to catch a movie in the theaters. We wanted to watch the cheesiest chick flick out, and nothing screams “romantic drama” more than a film based off of a Nicholas Sparks novel. You know: “A Walk to Remember”, “The Notebook”, “Safe Haven”. So yes, “The Last Song” was the default final decision. There was a scene in the movie where teenage pre-nudist movement Miley Cyrus dramatically spins around as she’s about to break down in tears, suddenly falling straight into the arms of Liam Hemsworth where he’s just waiting to catch her and kiss her hard. I know, right? Saucy, yet so incredibly predictable. But in that moment I just rolled my eyes and laughed. Out loud. In a pitch-black theater. Without thinking. Followed by the words, “Ohhhh pleaseeeee.” Also, spoken out loudly. It really happened, and although it was nothing but comedic relief for everyone sitting in the reclining chairs around, the partaking of that incident still resides so strongly in my memory.
I am a sucker for romantic comedies and dramas. They intrigue me. But if I’m being honest, more than anything, they mostly entertain and amuse me. I just can’t get myself to deem that any part of the plot is actually real—unexpectedly meeting someone, falling in love, tragedy striking, someone does something stupid, one party apologizing, grand romantic gesture cards pulled, and then everything suddenly becomes all kosher and junk. It’s just not real. But then the strangest thing happens to me, and I always find myself uncontrollably bawling like a little baby by the end of the film. I’m still trying to figure out this phenomenon but I’m thinking that maybe somewhere deep down inside, I wish I could just freely believe that those things actually happen in reality and not just in the movies. Truth is: Storylines like that always move me to ponder about real life love…
I’ve been thinking a lot about what love looks like lately.
Love looks like being selfless. Like when he randomly gets the sickies, and you have to be at work. So you risk it and tell your team you can’t make it to a meeting because you’re going to drive him home, make him chicken noodle soup from scratch, then sit on the couch together watching Disney movies until he falls asleep. It looks like cleaning all the dirty dishes in the sink and tidying up the kitchen even though you absolutely hate doing dishes, before sneaking out to return to you own place.
Love looks like simple gestures that say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you.” It looks like getting an extra cup of tea with your order or picking up a few extra organic apples and some fresh produce at the grocery store without anyone asking. It looks like sending nice little text messages that simply read, “good morning” or “I hope you have a great day.” Really, it’s the little things and everyone wants to know that they matter to someone.
Love looks like vulnerability. It’s not trying to impress someone with fancy BMW convertibles, or GQ suits and ties. It’s asking about their day no matter how expectedly mundane the answer might be. It’s being honest and authentic, and sharing pieces of your heart. It’s feeling safe, and trying to understand even if you don’t, and having heart to heart conversations about the things that scare you the most while walking through pathways coated with fall-colored leaves as you both subconsciously chase golden hour.
Love looks like speaking truth. Cold hard truth. It’s you sometimes telling them, or them sometimes telling you that the decision you made was probably not the wisest, or how you really messed up when you talked down to another human being. It looks like being open to being called out, or you doing the calling out. Not to pick fights or wage war. But for the sake of growth.
Love looks like generosity: with your time, your money, and your resources. It’s going way out of your way for someone else no matter how ridiculous it might be, but shrugging it off as NBD, but you secretly know it’s a big deal to them. It’s things like taking his things to the cleaners and then picking them up and running errands for him because he’s too busy to do them himself, and not thinking twice about it.
Love has everything to do with grace. It’s going in knowing that someone will screw up. BECAUSE, SOMEONE WILL SCREW UP. It looks like growing together instead of trying to fix each other. It’s accepting that we’re all broken people who come from different places and have gone through a lot of beating in our walk, but that’s okay because learning how to be a human is a process so extra emphasis on being patient and kind because you’ll probably need a whole waterfall of it and more.
I read somewhere the other day that people tend to settle for connection because love is too frightening.
Have you tried loving someone? Like, really loving someone? Without the games, without the bullshit, without being indecisive about it. It’s a lot of freaking work. Relationships are a lot of work, and they can be so strange. And it can get really messy, really quickly. Because you’re humans who are intertwining your different lives together, not just learning about each other but also navigating the realms of how to love each other, and love each other well. All that takes time and effort and investment. But we live in a culture so focused on individualism and protecting ourselves that we scoot by just knowing that it’s easier without having to be all in. So we take the connection route instead. After all, there’s so much less of your heart you could lose, and it wouldn’t be as deeply wounded when compared to actually being in love.
I’ve heard it thousands of times: “I’m having trouble committing to _________ because of _________.” or “Relationships just aren’t for me.” or “I’m just not ready…”
They’re all petty excuses that used to seem valid to me. But now I’m calling out that B.S. because the actual culprit is the crippling fear of uncertainties and unknowns, what if’s and but’s, and inability to step beyond the familiar comfort zones that is ourselves.
You’re never going to have it all together. Or be ready. And that flying plane in the sky you mistook for a shooting star cannot be the determining factor of your decisions. But don’t settle. Please don’t settle. Maybe every story doesn’t end with a happily ever after and the story board won’t be anything close to “Dear John” or “The Lucky One”. Chances are, it might not. But that also doesn’t mean that it couldn’t.
Connection is simple. Love is hard. Yet, if we just take a moment to be honest with our fickle selves: Love is what wins.