Friday, April 26, 2013

Once Upon a Time, I Believed in Love

Once upon a time, I believed that love could conquer anything and that all people, deep down inside, are capable of love. Then I saw people reject love and stubbornly cling to prejudice, pride, and solitude. I watched as people rejected my offerings and feared my intrusion into their emotional isolation. I was baffled as people did terrible things to the ones they claimed to love, things they would never want done to them.

Once upon a time, I believed that marriage was beautiful and holy. Then my parents got divorced after 30 years of marriage and my sister got divorced only one month later, after ten years of marriage. I didn't understand how things could just break down like that—until I arrived at the place where I am now, in the middle of my own divorce, utterly brokenhearted.

Once upon a time, I believed that the core of Christianity was love. Then I noticed that Christians all too often focus less on love than they do on things like politics, convoluted theological arguments, worship styles, and behavioral rules. Christians love to argue and judge each other and talk about what the Bible says while disparaging someone else. Just like everyone else, Christians love to be right.

Once upon a time, I believed that I deserved love. Then I realized that the man I loved did not love me the way I loved him. He did not trust me the way I trusted him. He did not value kindness and generosity that way I did. He made me justify myself to him, and I felt like I was always taking a test. I didn't understand why my constant attempts to win his trust and affection were falling short. I didn't understand why he didn't respond to my love.

Once upon a time, I believed that love was the number one priority in my life. Then I was forced to admit that no matter hard I try, how much I pray, or how much I study the Bible, I still mess up. My love is imperfect. I get jealous and angry and hurt. I committed to my marriage and fought to keep it alive year after year, and I still failed. I could not love without expecting something in return. I could not be as selfless as I wished to be.

Strangely enough, I still believe all of these things, despite the disappointments that I have endured. I believe in love, Christianity, marriage, and myself as much as ever. I believe that God is helping me and others in spite of our failures. I believe that the wisdom I have diligently recorded in this blog is true, even if I can't live up to it every day. I believe that God will guide my stumbling steps to new love and brighter days. I believe that darkness will come, but then it will pass. I believe that suffering will be a part of my life, but I know that love will outlast it.

Once upon a time, I was an optimist who believed in the power of love and the brilliance of possibility. The world has shown me otherwise, but I still believe.
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