Twenty years ago this month Jim and I started dating. We were 16 and like all teenagers eager for a relationship. Jim has always carried this quiet confidence with him, sometimes it wasn’t quiet but regardless of its volume you knew what he was sure of. Loving me at 16 was one of them. I’ve always loved him deeply but I was so much more hesitant than he was. He was bold and sure. I was timid and perfectly happy to “just be friends” because I loved the relationship we had and I feared we’d lose it.
I loved the idea of love. I loved every ounce of romantic notions that the world would throw around and I wanted all of it, but I also loved comfort in the known and predictable. I felt secure in a few truths: love was beautiful but often damaging; and even if I found love and got married it would not last. The stats were nothing to the realities I saw around me. Broken homes. Shattered dreams. Nope, not for me. I wanted it but I was afraid of it.
We wobbled and imploded under the weight of a love that neither of us fully understood. I saw it through a shattered lens and he saw it through a hazy “good enough” lens. Neither realizing that we needed to clean and repair.
So twenty years later I have a new definition and understanding of love. It’s hard. It demands all of you. It has zero to do with perfection and 100% to do with imperfection. It brings out the best in us and challenges even the hardest, most broken hearts to come into the light.
So for those of you fighting the good, hard battle of love here is some hard-learned wisdom: very often hardest work gleams the best harvest; a peaceful, loving relationship doesn’t just sprout up, it’s cultivated. Fervent prayer is the steadiest battle plan there ever was. Kindness bridges what bitterness shatters. And rushing through difficult seasons does not make them go away, bottled up hurts and anger will most likely explode at a later time. Communicate about even the things you think they already know. Being present is always the best gift, no matter how many years tick by.