I was crying. Speeding down 322 in Lancaster County, and trying to choke back tears because the rational side of my mind was loudly reminding me that it’s not safe to cry and drive. Especially on a windy road as dusk falls.
I couldn’t help it, though–those tears were a’comin’ with nothing to stop them. And for once, it wasn’t because I was sad.
You heard me right. Part of being Bethany is tearing up when I am happy, overjoyed, excited, empathetic, frustrated and just about any other emotion. My heart–and eyes–overflow at Hallmark commercials, EVERY movie, and all remotely sad or sweet stories. Really, folks. At any moment I could become a geyser.
This moment, though, was thankfully a happy one. I was crying because I loved someone, and I had never thought I would be able to love someone.
I won’t pretend that the love of my 10-month-old relationship is the same as love that has been tested through the years. It’s a new, still-tentative-at-times love. Yet of one thing I am sure: It is love, and it is a love that I never thought I would experience.
There are a lot of reasons I thought this. The biggest, one, though, is that I KNOW I am not entitled to romantic love.
You heard me right: God does not OWE me a spouse.
I was single for 28 years. And while it was a fight sometimes to live contentedly, I always knew that any relationship–even a great one–would complicate my life, as well as present a whole new set of issues alongside the whole set of new benefits. In fact, I found a note scrawled in my journal after David and I started dating that read: “Being single would be less complicated.” I stand by that note.
All of this translated into me believing that there would never be a boyfriend or a husband in my life. As time went on, I wasn’t sure that was such a bad thing. Love–especially in marriages–too often seemed like a rarity. Plus, was I really capable of loving someone?
Yet there I was, crying as I sped down a country road. Because I did love someone, early though it was. And even more, that someone loved me back that way.
It wasn’t the love I’d heard about in movies with the fluff and the perfection and the rainbows. This love stripped me bare. Yet somehow, I was safe.
That’s not something people mention often, is it? That loving someone, particularly in a romantic relationship, will reveal the depth of your brokenness in an unflinching way.
In the last 10 months, I have never been so aware of how undeserving I am of love. And I have never been so utterly aware that I am loved.
I am stripped bare, but my beloved clothes me. I am horrified by my failings, but my beloved is unflustered. I cannot bring myself to ask, and still my beloved meets me in my unspoken query.
And I’m not just talking about my boyfriend.
The truth is, love often seems like a paradox. Love is easy, and love is hard. Love is care-free, and love is intensive. Love is feelings, and love is choice. Love changes me, and love reveals who I really am.
Love isn’t simple. But it’s hearty. Love isn’t without work. But it’s strong as death. Love isn’t the flimsy fancy I once concocted, but it yields a deeper joy than I ever dreamt.
And I’m only 10 months into it all. I wonder what it’s like for people who are much farther ahead of me? I want to learn from them, but I know I can’t live their journey. I can only live my own with God’s ever-present help and assistance.
After disappointments, shattered dreams and more than a few broken promises, I found myself crying on a country road because, well, that was the day I began to believe in love again.
It had started by believing in one man’s love. It ended with me finding the Author of Love again.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11