The other day I was perusing books on goodreads.com and Pinterest and other places (because, you know, I need more books to read) and I complained to my roommate, “Everything is a love story. So much of my life is not like that.”
(Just for full disclosure, today I was literally squealing about the fictional romance going on between Ella and Char in Ella Enchanted. So, so precious. Obviously I enjoy these love stories, but I also enjoy stories where nobody smooches. Love can still be present, even without smooching.)
Then I got to thinking. What do we read about? What do we write about? What do we watch on TV? Love and romance! First kisses! Boyfriends! Girlfriends! Slow dancing! Dates! Weddings! Fights and reconciliations! Selfish, one-sided relationships and the unrealistic easy fixes! How much of the fiction I read and the movies I watch are centered on this one theme of romantic love? So much! How much of my actual life is consumed by this type of romantic love? So so little. Practically none. And if it never happens for me I never want to feel like I’ve missed out. I never want to feel like that is all there is – romance and a handsome guy who thinks I’m the best. (For the record I have a lot of handsome guy friends who tell me I’m the best all the time.)
A single woman I really respect once said, “Marriage is like a cherry on top, but if you don’t get married, you haven’t missed a thing.”
She wasn’t bashing marriage or insulting those who enjoy the wonders of marriage. She wasn’t putting down romantic love because she was bitter or jaded. She was encouraging a group of single women who are doing this international missionary thing “alone” by giving us permission to thrive right now as we are without waiting for a ring on our finger to signal that our lives can begin now. She was telling me to stop waiting. To stop looking forward to what might happen in the future and to realize how full and blessed and lovely life is right now. “Alone.”
But of course I’m not alone. I’m never alone.
This year I thought about choosing a word, as some other bloggers do. I considered powerful words that mean something to me. Words like fearless and free. In the end I landed on a song, a song that speaks to my heart because I grew up proclaiming it, standing next to my mom every Sunday in church, my fingers wrapped around the back of the pew in front of me.
I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.
I chose this song because this year, again, I decided to follow Jesus and I decided that there would be no turning back. I chose this song because last year God showed me so clearly how life is a series of decisions. Life is a series of “God’s way or my way?” Life is a series of “do you trust me or not?” I want to choose Jesus every time, every day. No turning back.
I had decided to follow Jesus. The song still makes sense, still means a lot, still draws me forward, onward toward the Cross and the One who suffered, died, and now lives. But now, almost half way through the year (wow, seriously?!) one word keeps popping up again and again in my thoughts, in my prayers, in my morning quiet times with my cat. It’s not fearless or free or any of the words I would’ve assigned to my 2014. It’s Full. Full. I can’t count the number of times this year I’ve thought, “My life is so full.”
Not full in the stressful, overwhelming way. Full in all of the beautiful and lovely ways. Full of ocean’s waves. Full of students’ smiles. Full of proclaiming how stinking good God is. (Which is so good!) Full of things felt deeply. Full of books. Full of words written and typed and read and shared and felt. Full of songs sung loudly and with soul. Full of dancing freely like David. Full of new things, new words, new friends. Full of love love love.
“Everything is a love story. So much of my life is not like that.”
But oh, my life is so full of love.
You know it’s true what they say – you can’t fully love another until you love yourself. It’s also true that God is love. It’s also true that you can’t give something away that you’ve never received. This year, these months, today, I have received God’s great love. I have soaked it up and down into my toes and up through my chest and sang it out my mouth. I’m living in it, alive because of it. I recognize God’s great love in my life and in His Word. I realize how undeserving I am of this great love, which makes it even more miraculous. It doesn’t make sense, but I get it. I get it. And because I get it, I can give it.
And now I can fully love. Not butterflies in my stomach, hand-holding love. No, not that kind of love. But a full love, nonetheless. Love looks like this – Skyping and Facebooking and blog-reading and e-mailing and praying and photo collages and “this reminded me of you.” Now love looks like nonsensical road trips for days of Netflix or one meal shared. Now love looks like driving as long as it takes (or getting on that bus!) because we’re finally in the same country. Now love looks like “tell me everything!” and inviting myself into people’s lives and homes. Now love looks like inviting strangers out to dinner and sitting on a log on the side of the road. Now love looks like games and movies and read alouds and spontaneous hugs and so much dancing. Love looks like truth and sometimes even my love looks a little selfless. Love looks fearless and love looks full.
The love in my life doesn’t look like the love in books or movies. I have no Gus texting me, “Okay” every night. (In fact, I have nobody texting me ever.) I have no Prince Char bringing me centaurs and writing me love letters. I have no Peeta risking his life for me and I definitely don’t have Four/Tobias uh… trying to kill me? Inviting me to experience his greatest fears? I don’t know I didn’t make it past Book 1.
I have no knight in shining armor, no guitar-playing hottie, no bad boy with a soft side. And that’s okay. I’m okay. More than okay in fact. I am full.
I’m not saying that a tall, Jesus-loving, tattooed, Spanish speaking musician who loves Harry Potter wouldn’t be welcomed like a big ol’ cherry on top. You know.. if you happen to know anybody. What I am saying is that without him I’m not missing out. On life or on love.
I’m more than blessed.
What fills up your life? What does your love look like?