Love Defined. (April 2017)

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“Love Defined” is an intermittent series of writings that reflect the way “love” continuously gets redefined in my life over the course of my experiences over time. My goal is to have a record of the way love matures and manifests itself in action as I continually give it and practice it in my life.

Love Defined in April 2017:

Love is an continuous act of respecting a person’s decision to reject you — though I fail at honoring this about twice a week, I am learning that love and respect are so interconnected and need to co-exist. I used to think that “lack of communication” is the downfall of many relationships, but I now believe that underlying the communication is the level of respect two people have for each other. When that respect is lost, then even good communication won’t really matter. I have to come to terms is that what was being lost over time unbeknownst to me was mutual respect – of each other’s time, of each other’s commitments, of each other’s needs. This lack is probably why I still find myself wanting to keep in contact despite knowing better. This next month, the goal is to fully and truly honor the decision of the rejection, continually choosing to respect space that was desired.

Love is the coming to terms with what love looks like now — have you ever wondered how much suffering you’re able to take on simply because you love someone else? It’s astounding how much bandwidth I have for “punishment” and “pain” because of how much “love equity” I possess with someone. I think the breakup process is the gradual exhausting of that love tank, so that you’re able to actually objectively observe the condition of the relationship, and make better decisions about your own health. I absolutely hate having to “demote” someone who no longer wants my heart from the position of “significant other” to “just-as-significant-as-the-rest-of-my-friends.” As someone who has committed the past three years of his life to voraciously communicating edifying, uplifting words to others, to actually say beautiful things that I have in my heart to tell them that I see in them, it really really sucks that the relationship is no longer in a place where they can receive it in the way I want to express it. But that’s where it is now – they have chosen to lower their level of significance in my life and therefore it’s no longer appropriate to affirm who they are to me at that level. The only encouragement for me is knowing that God can actually take over and surround that person with even better words and encouragement and life that I could only dream of saying. In fact, I know that’s the conversation God has always been having, and knowing that, I am glad and more able to step away.

Love is a truth-teller that is not concerned with making you feel better — A breakup is when you decide someone isn’t worth your time anymore. That they are no longer worth fighting for. That the value of your life increases when they are removed from it. That you believe in a future where you are happier without them than you are with them, and you want to invest in that future. That’s the subtext behind the action. That’s why it hurts – it’s a rejection that has evidence. They tried you out and decided that in the long term you were not for them. But love is always revealing truth, and that truth does provide the necessary perspective to focus on health and wisdom. And the truth is that I will never know what is in her heart, and it will never be shared or made known to me. That evidence is clear. The wisdom, however, I am gaining from this process become the guideposts that will help position me better for when love for someone else arouses in me again eventually.

Hope and Space.

“Something changes in the universe when you confess, admit, and declare truth. It seems that when you speak it out, truth is invited in.”
– Jamie George, Love Well

I’m a broken man… I want to acknowledge this. To you.

I know that I can vein vulnerability pretty well, I know that I can essentially hide the things that really bother me and divert the cause to something more menial.

But I know you’re more wise and keen than that.

So I want to own up. I want to share. I can’t heal what I can’t acknowledge. And I want to do this because I want to restore my hope in us again. I want to return to the place of beautiful, mutual vulnerability, and make those moments the cornerstones of what we are building together.

I want a relationship that is thriving, healthy, authentic, unstuck. One where we have access to each other without feeling like we have over-extended, where we are each getting what we are putting in. One that is brimming with hope, wonder, excitement, butterflies; one where guilt is put into perspective and is dealt with swiftly; one where even the simplest and faintest of communication is teeming with life-giving, game-changing love.

I want to believe that we can create that. I want to have hope again. I want to cling onto that hope and grip tightly until my knuckles are white.

This month I’ve found myself growing more numb. It started when I started sensing distance from you during the trip and couldn’t put my finger on it. And there was no space to acknowledge or talk about it. We have talked since, and while we have moved past it, truthfully I have to admit that even after much reflection, I still cannot pinpoint where I miscommunicated my gratitude for you on the trip. I would very much like to know this, I want to grow, I want to learn. I need help discovering where that was so I have the wisdom and awareness to deal with it.

Through that experience and later on in the month, I have started to feel in my soul that I had started to withdraw and change up my values to feel less pain. My speech and texts were cold. I realize that the danger in numbing myself was making me miss and appreciate the moments that you did give me, ones that were plainly you making the effort and giving your all. But I had numbed myself to the point where I couldn’t even acknowledge the sacrifices you were making. I was only concerned and focused on the sacrifices that I was making. I was glorifying my own efforts in my own thoughts, I was stoking my own ego, and I was taking back affirmation that I felt I was being denied. I know that these are huge unattractive qualities and I know how allergic you are to ego. And I see it developing in my life. I am acknowledging it’s presence, confirming it’s ugliness, and understanding the distance it can cause. I want it gone, and the way to get it out is to bring it to light and hit it with Truth.

I want to be clear and honest — my encouragement to you is real, it is authentic. It is the version of me that I am choosing in faith and doing the work so that I can believe it with my feelings too. And believe me, whenever I have told you that I have prayed for you, I did it. Every time.

I am also sorry that I have plagued our conversations with frameworks around “love languages” that clearly are not helping the conversation, nor do I feel that they apply to our communication. I want to apologize for this and say sorry for trying to put our uniqueness in a box and for continuing to try to explain us in that context. I want to tell you that I’m rejecting that attempt and I will simply just “be” and pay more attention to your sacrifices, your efforts. I no longer want to be blind to them and so affixed on my needs and the way I need to feel loved. We are unique individuals with our own method and brand of love and communication, and I need to pay more attention to you and discover the value in the way you communicate with me on my own.

I want to acknowledge that I have been sensing distance… avoidance, even.. I want to acknowledge this and create a space to talk about that. I’ve noticed that it’s tricky to schedule face-to-face time with you. I am wondering if it’s because of a fear of what is on my mind or what I want to discuss. The truth is that I’m just at a point where I just want to have a relationship, and I don’t care if we talk about us at all — I just want to “be” with you. I know you are hustling, making it work, and I have been respecting your time as best as I could. I will say though that not spending time with you is creating more numbness about our whole situation, and I find myself losing hope.

I do not want to lose hope. I do not want to go numb.

I want life. I want relationship. I want communication. I want fun. I want to be myself and fight for hope in us again. I want to fight. I want to be battle ready for the other hardships that will come. I want to talk. I want us to fight because that vulnerability is the soil where connection blooms. I want my girlfriend. I want to be real. I want Truth to be invited back into our space….

Space.

Space… huh. (please wait while brain switches gears…. *krrrrzzztt*)

In experiencing the love of God more intensely this week alone, I am now understanding that I do not love you well. We don’t love each other well. I am constantly trying to throw my words and support at you as if to goad you into loving me the way I want to, and getting frustrated when it doesn’t work. You withdraw from the pressure and feeling  inadequacy. Until this moment I have lived in denial — denying that perhaps you too are in just as much pain, but in a different way. We’re both sensing that something isn’t right, that there is a disconnection. And maybe space gives us time to recollect ourselves. It worked for you toward me, it allowed you to forgive me, the only issue was that I did not know that that was going on at the time when we were having space and I didn’t get a chance to utilize it simultaneously.

But I do see the value in it.

“Harassed by life, exhausted, we look about us for somewhere to be quiet, to be genuine, a place of refreshment. We yearn to restore our spirits in God.”
– Hars Urs von Balthasar

I’ve been a coward this whole time..  deep within me there is a deep fear of disappointing you, of not being enough too, of disapproval. of not speaking up about how I really feel whenever things change or plans fall through. the facade that keeps me from being real. the fear of losing you.

But if in the end if I lose you, there is a faithful God – He is good. He has a beautiful, full future for both of us.

Regardless, in the same way that spaces in this sentence allows room for understanding, maybe I need to give my soul some space to grow up and appreciate you for who you really are, what you really do for me. The way you cause me to grow. The way you make me see how Beautiful God can be. I want to know your thoughts on this.

On Tuesday I want to celebrate what we have done right. And I wanted to give us space after the celebration. I want to practice how to actively wait. How to reset and be okay. How to miss you properly without injecting guilt. How it feels to limit access to you and get my life together. I see you are already getting yours together, and I have much to learn.

I would love this to be our launching off point when we talk. OR we can just be and celebrate. Either way, I have something for you.

Choosing you always,

Joseph