Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shipwrecks and Love

We live in a culture enthralled by the concepts of love and sex and happiness. All of those things are beautiful elements of life, but they only coincide at very special intersections. Those of us who come from the youthful generation of today have tough decisions to make when it comes to falling in love. Harder, I think, than any generation that has preceded us. It takes nothing more than a simple glance at a television or the internet or even a magazine to garner the world's idea of what love is. Love is easy. It happens when we want it to. It conforms to our ideals and preferences. It cannot hurt us, only make us happier. Sex is fun and has no consequences. These monumental claims are solidified in movies, music, art, TV; anything and everything that culture has to offer. Though once foreign, these ideas become embedded in our thought processes, and change how we view love.

Glancing from the outside, it can be assumed that these ideas are true. Hollywood's finest appear to be very happy, rich individuals. Music super stars have beautiful spouses and love interests. I only wonder what they would have to say if I had the opportunity to talk to them one-on-one. I refuse to believe that their portrayal of love is the correct one. Falling in love on our own terms destroys our view of what love was designed to be. One of my mentors once told me, "It's easy to make yourself love someone, but it's impossible to make yourself fall in love with someone." His words have stuck with me for so long because there is no simpler way to put it. People who "fall in love" before they are ready to do something of that magnitude are only making their lives miserable.

I'm going to hone in on my point now I promise. What if we looked at falling in love through this lens: falling in love is equatable to giving yourself away. I think it is a fair standpoint to take. When we truly find someone who completes us and becomes our other half, we give our self to them. Not just physically, but on an emotional, psychological level. The deepest connection we can ever make in this life, apart from one with God, is to have another person know us just as well as we know our self; the way we think, our patterns, our strengths, our flaws, our struggles. That is an intimidating thought. There are things about my own person that I'm not quite ready to have anyone else know just yet, and I think that is what I'm trying to say. When you give yourself away before you're ready to, you run the risk of deeply injuring yourself. The world is full of people waiting to take advantage of you. I hate seeing people who fell in love too fast or with the wrong person because their souls almost audibly cry out to me. I can see that with every ounce of themselves, they want to be whole again. I wish I could put some magic words on this page that would help us, myself included, realize that we need to take time to truly know ourselves before we can give ourselves away.

Permit me to use an illustration. Suppose a company builds a beautiful ship. It is equipped with all of the latest technology and ready for a sea voyage. But when the time comes to set out, they choose a captain who has had no formal training, and knows nothing about the ship. The most substantial thing he has ever piloted is a canoe. He has no idea how much fuel the ship holds, how many passengers can fit aboard, where any of the control rooms are, how to operate the ship, how to contact land; he simply knows that he wants to sail from New York to Greece. Would you get on his ship? No of course not. For all you know, the ship would get stranded at sea, lost, or even sink. The choice is obvious when you look at a simple story like this. Your course of action would bet to go look for a captain who has had years of experience on the sea, and knows his ship like the back of his hand. It is obvious. Why then do we jump into shipwreck love situations without truly knowing or understanding ourselves? We are all capable of being the best captains the world has ever seen, but we choose journeys that are too big, and we choose them at the wrong times.

I am not trying to convince you not to date or make anyone feel bad for the mistakes that you have made in the past. Everyone lives and learns when it comes to love, and the lessons that we learn prepare us for future love endeavors. I just hurt for those of us who have given ourselves away too soon. To give you a little bit of insight into my story, I gave myself away too early on several occasions. I'm not just talking about having sex outside of marriage, though I do believe God's plan for us is to save ourselves for marriage. It goes so much deeper than sex. Our emotions and self-worth are deeply tied to the relationships we put ourselves in. I allowed people to get to close to me when I wasn't ready to have anyone know me that deeply. My wish for you is that you would take time to get to know yourself before you let someone else convince you of who you are. God created us all with a special gift to give to someone. That gift is you. You are a completely unique creation. Don't let just anyone unwrap that gift. Let me end with a piece from one of my favorite poets:

Love is our only art,
And we give it away.
My head pushed through the atmosphere
In search of a satellite--
Of substance,
Around which to fall is sway.
I saw them all,
But one of them took me,
For what I was worth.
Too much I let slip
And too much did she take.
Soaring down over time,
Towards the material teeth,
Set to kill.
Not the dream--the drug.
Holding hands with danger,
Because she saw me,
As I wanted to be seen.
But it was dead.
Love is my only art,
And I gave it away.

(Note: I deeply appreciate every one of you who took the time to read this. You are the reason I share my words. You can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand.)

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