My friend and future co~bookstore owner, Patty wrote a blog about love (read it here) after we came back from Spain. I had tears streaming down my face reading it because I understood the love she was speaking about.
And I must confess, I’ve wanted to write a blog on love too. But my words I knew would be different than Patty’s. And I wasn’t sure what words they were yet. All I knew was my heart bursts and breaks now in ways that it never had before.
The other day I woke up with a beautiful passage from Velveteen Rabbit in my head and on my heart. I hadn’t recently read it somewhere, I wasn’t scrolling through Pinterest—it was just there. Sitting in my brain.
“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always”
Here’s the thing: real love, real tear filled, hard words, silly laughter, silent book reading afternoon love changes you. It does something to you that you almost can’t explain.
I don’t want this to be read as if I’d never experienced love before- I had. And actually if anything the last two years have caused me even more clearly to see where I’ve experienced love like that before.
Where I’ve experienced CHRIST like that before.
I’ve ran a lot in life. I’ve hid. I’ve hid behind the fact that I know how to love well. And if I KNOW how to love well then I must be ok. If I can give it I must have HAD it.
And of course, I give really, REALLY good hugs.
But there is a difference between GIVING a hug and RECEIVING one. There is a sink your whole self into the person, wrap your arms around them and let all your troubles go because you know that person is going to take them, even if for a moment from you.
I was normally on the giving end of a hug. I would see someone needing a hug and I’d give. I’d rarely ask for one. I didn’t need them that bad.
And when it comes down to it how I interacted with people was how I interacted with God.
I feel like, for the longest time I never asked God for a hug. I never plagued Him with my burdens. I’d hug Him when I felt like I needed too. But never in a receiving sort of way.
Then I got to the point that I couldn’t even hug him. I’d been there before, during times of depression and times of brokenness. But after the race and the beginning of Spain I had to force myself to even be in his presence. During an exercise in class last summer we had to picture Jesus with us in this field. I was sitting on a blanket when he came up. I promptly told him to not sit down next to me. To stay away.
Then He overwhelmed me. With words from people, with gifts, with love. He poured so much into my arms even while I was STILL telling him to stay away.
And then I ran. I made myself busy. I did a lot. I volunteered for things, offered myself for jobs. Which is my normal. It is what I did.
And then, like so many times before, I got tired.
And He was still there.
Through all of it. He had watched me run and do and be all of these people and places and things that I didn’t need to be. Like I had done time after time after time.
And He was still there. Like HE had done time after time after time.
And then out of sheer exhaustion and the inability to solve any of the “problems” going on around me I let Him hug me. I gave up really. I gave up running, gave up turning to things that I had been turning to for years, and I let him hug me.
And really, REALLY allowed myself to open my arms and receive love. Let it saturate me. Let it wear me down. Let myself hear what he thought of me. Let Him whisper that He LOVED me.
That He Loved me FIRST.
That He loves me ALWAYS.
And then, without knowing it, I became a person who can give and receive love.
Even when it looks messy and when it’s hard and when it causes your heart to burst and break. I have experienced the love of Christ like I’ve never known. Like I never chose to see or receive.
So I sit here, tears streaming down my face knowing that it isn’t possible to go back from this. Knowing it is in me.
And no matter how I struggle or where I go or what ups and downs happen in life I have this love from my God in heaven that has sufficiently rocked me to my core.
Without knowing it; I became Real.
(And once you are Real, it is for always)