Forgive me if this doesn’t make the most sense. It’s been a while since I’ve written and I’m also coming off a crazy long day at the coffee shop, so this one could be a jambalaya of sorts. I’ve been thinking this afternoon about being known and loved. How everyone longs to love and be loved. How everyone IS loved but they don’t often know it or don’t believe it. How so many love those who don’t love them back. I find myself thinking about unrequited love pretty often actually. It’s heart-wrenching to think about, yet my thoughts wander that direction, drawn to those thoughts like a moth to the flame.
Wouldn’t love be so easy if everything was cut and dry? If we just made deals and kept them. If those we chose to love, chose to love us in return. If we promised to love and never leave and then kept those promises in the end. Remember how crushes and “dating” played out in elementary school? When we would send friends as messengers across the playground to test the waters of a new love interest and report back the likeliness that it would happen?
“Jill, would you go out with Ben if he asked you out?”
“…like, for sure.”
And just like that, with the assurance of a yes, Ben asks Jill to the movies. Now I reference this kind of deal-making in the times of elementary school, but really don’t we all want that same assurance currently? In college, out of college, as real life grown-ups, we all want the certainty of love and the complete absence of rejection. However, our world is far from perfect. Promises are broken. We have no absolute certainty that those who love us will continue to love us. We risk rejection everyday. Love is complicated. We hurt those that mean the world to us. We are hurt by those that mean the world to us. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to love these days. We all want to be protected from sadness, sorrow and rejection. There’s this great quote from the excellent book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness”. If we constantly have our walls built high and our hearts on lock-down for fear or rejection, then yes, we are doing an amazing job of protecting ourselves from sadness. But we are also doing an amazing job of protecting ourselves from happiness that we could be experiencing if we let down our defenses and let ourselves be known.
This is scary, to be fully known. I think we all struggle with being known, at least I do. It’s a balance between wanting to be known AND loved and being known AND rejected. For someone to know everything about you and reject you is a real blow, enough of a blow to want to hide away one’s true self. To have the whole of you, your core rejected, that is crushing. It reminds me of a Pedro the Lion song, “If they really knew me, they would run.” We have a deep fear that if we are known, people will turn away...
I was just talking with someone today about how love is about really knowing someone. There is this cute couple that comes into the coffee shop and we had made a comment on Henry’s shirt the other day. He was wearing a shirt with rows of commas arranged in various positions in rows across and down with the heading of Comma Sutra above them. We thought it was hilarious and perfect since he’s an editor. We congratulated Gretchen on a perfect gift for him and she told us about his perfect gift to her, special edition Travel Scrabble. He knows she loves words and travel and games. She knows his sense of humor and love of punctuation. It was sweet really. No need for diamonds and flare. They are showing their love for each other and their knowing of each other. I just loved that. When we risk real love, we are inviting others to know us and love us despite rejection. And I pray that we would all have the courage to risk and to love fearlessly.