These words were said or written to me in the past year…
“Why do you get to have two love stories?” and “You were blessed to have known such love – twice! – only few have that.”
These words have stuck with me. I have thought about them and considered what they meant to my friends who spoke them and to me who received them. This is what I have concluded…
I get to have two love stories because I keep my heart open to love. This has not always been easy. Sometimes my open heart has been battered. In 2012 I thought my heart was permanently broken. But here I am…with a heart that is scarred by the inconceivable loss of a husband and child. But, still…I choose to be open to love every day.
I was sent a young man when I was 17 that saw something special in me and wanted to marry me and have children with me. He thought I was gorgeous and sexy and smart and funny for decades. He chose me. He saw something in me that impelled him to be my guy for days and years and decades of Christmases and birthdays and music and watching sunsets, as well as the normal dung of life. We argued over money and child-rearing and we screamed and cried about hurts and loss and broken promises. But we persevered and forgave and healed and carried on. And in the end, our lives together, in all the imperfect messiness, was a love story.
Years later I was sent an older man when I was an older lady. He saw something special in me and wanted to try marriage with me. He thinks I am beautiful and sexy and wise and funny. He chose me. He saw something in me that touched him and he thought we would be happy together. Because of lessons learned from my first love story, because I was determined to have special love with this guy, I promised myself and him that I would not allow hurt or pain to come between us. I swore I would let him know if he ever said or did anything to hurt me. For me, an avid avoider of conflict and a person who is an expert at ignoring negative feelings, this was a huge promise. However, I wanted no little slights or misunderstood comments to build even one little stone of a wall around my heart. I would not let little things make our love story any less. Because of keeping this promise, my heart is still full to the brim four years later. I walk around whispering, “thanks!” all day long (1Thessalonians 5:18) because I am living a second love story.
So ladies, who remarked on my loved life, I can only encourage you to put it out there. If you are still in love with the guy you married, break down the stones of your walled off heart. Forgive past hurts and start filling each others’ lives with new love, an un-walled heart love. If you are starting a new life without that first guy, break down the stones of your walled off heart. Allow yourself to grieve and wail and throw tantrums. Feel all that crappy feelings that are weighing on you. And then move forward into a new joy, a new future that is full of hope and possibilities.
If I, an old battered woman, broken almost beyond repair, can throw off the mantel of pain and weariness; if I can hang onto a thread of hope and find a new love story, anyone can. YOU get to have two love stories too! Just start. Because really, as Richard Rohr so eloquently states, “Love is our foundation and our destiny. It is where we come from and where we’re headed.”