Valentine’s day is upon us again. And as I find myself sitting here, alone, I can’t help but think of what I was doing last year on this hot or cold, take it or leave it holiday. Last year I was lying in bed with someone very special. And as we were lying there, naked and nervous, we said the thing you say to someone when they make you feel unlike anyone else makes you feel. We said, “I love you” to each other (for the first time). And then we laughed at ourselves because….Valentine’s Day?! How cliche can you get??
But it was true. We both felt it. And we had both been holding out, but agreed the words and the feelings had ignited a fire, burning deep within our souls for quite some time that we simply could not contain any longer. It had started before we even had a chance to meet; before my hand could reach out and touch his hand; before I could know the relief I would feel in his presence. It was alive; a spark followed by the most brilliant light.
I loved him and he loved me. We loved each other and became a family. His. Mine. We moved in together and things became “Ours”. It was great. …And then it was not so great. It was great again. It was… not. I still loved him and he still loved me. That was never the issue, so then… what? Because here we are, on the “not” side of things which finally turned into the “never will be” faze of our now non-relationship.
Perhaps the what was an unwillingness to let our hearts get broken; an unwillingness to be completely vulnerable, to let go, move on, sacrifice. In addition, an unwillingness to sweat, though if he came to me and said, “You’re worth it” I’d roll up my sleeves and say, “Let’s do this”. There is so much work to making relationships work! There’s a lot of work to just life in general. Is that why people give up? Is that why people resist pushing their limits? They settle in to themselves and just decide, “Well… this is the way I’ve always been. Guess this is who I’m going to be forever. Take it or leave it?” Because to that I say, “Oh, bugger off then!”
You see because, I don’t take what starts as a tiny spark and grows into sheer luminosity very lightly. In fact, I take that shit quite seriously. But I also take myself seriously, as well as my family. I demand a lot of myself and therefore, I demand respect from my partner and I demand a man of integrity. This means that when the woman you love is asking you to sacrifice for the betterment of your relationship, you get down on your knees and offer up your best metaphorical lamb. You do NOT saunter off with your tail between your legs because you’re worried the lamb isn’t enough. Or because you want to keep the lamb for yourself. NO! That is not what appeases the gods and goddesses of eternal love. And let me tell you, that is NOT how committed relationships survive and flourish. (All of mine have failed so trust me, I’m an expert!)
Interestingly, it just so happens that Valentine’s Day coincides with another holiday: Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of a 40-day religious practice, Lent, also known as a process of reconciliation to the Body of Christ. During this time, people are called to render their hearts to God by giving up something that is sacred to them. For some, this is ice cream; chocolate!; coffee (please don’t take away my coffee). But really, what this time is meant for is to reflect on how one can be a better person. In the Bible I believe it is referred to as “conversion” which literally means ‘to turn around’, or in other words, to turn back to your true nature.
Hearts are meant to be broken. And broken hearts can be made even more whole than what they started out as being, as long as we allow ourselves the time to reflect on who we were born to be and why we sacrifice for a greater sense of belonging.
“To change one’s way of living is the sign and fruit of this broken and reconciled heart by a love that surpasses us.” –Pope Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) in his 2013 Lenten message.
I want a love that surpasses; one that’s worth sacrificing for. When I find it, I will step up to its alter and offer up my fear of a broken heart.