Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Agape Valentine's.

I was not yet in love, yet I loved to love...I sought what I might love, in love with loving. –St. Augustine of Hippo

Love is in the air, tainting our fair city of Chicago. Red and pink hearts seem to plaster the window displays of each storefront I walk past and I can’t help but notice all the adoring couples walking arm in arm…cooing and cuddling till their little hearts content.

It’s also left an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. Bitterness seems to scoff at these joy filled couples—and no matter how many streets I walk down, for every happy seems there are two people who feel they are not worthy of love.

My spirit of lust for love totally understands and empathizes.

When the first person you’ve ever been ‘in love’ with breaks your heart, everything changes.

Whoa, whoa, whoa people. I can hear you judge me through the computer, groaning, ‘Thank you, Captain Obvious!’…but cut me some slack here!

See, prior to that first love, I had certainly been broken up with…but it never truly hurt. And if it did hurt, it only lasted a day or two and soon I would find myself moved on to the newest flavor of the week. Of course I’d felt the pangs of losing a friend, or suddenly being deprived of sweet texts, phone calls, physical touch, compliments and words of affirmation. But…I’d never really lost a piece of my heart.

It’s one thing to watch the movies and pretend to know, and it’s another to stare at the pieces lying on the ground in front of us. We never truly realize how much it will actually change our lives until it happens.

Of course it comes in stages and waves. First, the colors of life drastically change. Things suddenly become more or less clear.

Over night, the compliments from that classmate you really care about are something you take to heart. In an instant, you realize how important it is to stop taking for granted the people in your life who are willing to sit with you when you’re depressed and weeping. You are amazed, awed and ever grateful for the friends who have the strength and conviction to force you to go out dancing when they know it’s time for you to move on, but who also have the wisdom to simply sit in silence with you when you need it. It’s in these moments that you realize who your true friends are, and you find the strength to let the unhealthy acquaintances go.

When your heart breaks, it’s easy to see what is true and what is false. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in our love lives. We suddenly see the red flags, the bad habits, the lies that we were spoon-fed to keep us indoctrinated by the ideal of love until our partner determined whether or not they really were in love with us.

We’ve seen it time and time again:

People are immature. It wasn’t meant to be. C’est la vie. We move on.

So, if it’s as simple as this….why do I ache?

Around this time last year, I thought I had found the one that I was going to marry. I had given him my heart, my soul…and was even ready to give up my hopes and dreams to simply serve him under the glowing title of ‘wife’.

I was in love with him.

No, I was in love with the idea of him.

No, that’s not right…I was in love with love.

Essentially, I had lost my marbles for a guy that was the last person I should have been falling for. Go figure.

A year later, and I can officially say I haven’t been asked out since he hung up the phone that night he decided he wasn’t in love with me anymore [Yes, I just said hung up the phone…]. I haven’t been hit on by a sober male since…well, I suppose the same amount of time. Since then the only crushes I’ve had are on people who probably see me as their sister and the only bells I’ll be hearing for the next couple of years will be the alarm clock that tells me it’s time to stop dreaming of romance.

My heart has been aching a lot more as I approached the one-year anniversary of my heart being shattered into a million pieces. Perhaps because I know he’s moved on. Perhaps because I know he never really cared to begin with. Maybe because I feel foolish for having been so care free with my heart when I had the opportunity to protect it.

But…today, when I simply want to scream…


I start wondering if it’s just all the Valentine’s day crap loaded into each window display I pass.

What is with this hype?!

First world problems, right?

It’s sad that a hash tag on twitter was the slap in the face that I needed to wake up from my disillusioned state of wanting love. Laugh all you want, but these past couple of months have made me realize how incredible a gift it is to ache.

As Valentine’s day approaches…as I begin to call it ‘Single's Awareness Day’, out of frustration for my lack of a more dynamic relationship status on facebook, I realize that the only thing making me feel less joy filled in my singleness is a holiday that is actually meant to remind us to love and appreciate those who accept us for our authenticity.

Last Valentine’s day…I was so depressed I could barely move from my bed. But as I stared at the ceiling, knowing that eventually I would have to get out of bed, drag my butt to class and then rehearsal—I made the decision to make the beautiful day at hand, that so many of us choose to despise, about loving humanity and not about having a romantic someone. I bought two-dozen cupcakes at our local super ‘in’ cupcake store and gave them to my cast, crew and random people on the street. I made Valentine’s for my classmates and teachers. I gave notes to strangers and smiled at as many people as I could.

And yes, by the end of the day…I experienced the first ounce of relief since my heartbreak.

Why? Because I loved fully. Maybe not someone, but instead all.

I loved ALL my brothers and sisters in Christ.

And it was more fulfilling than any romance I’ve ever partook in.

That boy that I was so desperate to give myself to has moved on and probably forgotten about me. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he resents the fact that I didn’t ‘fight’ for a friendship after he left me bed ridden for weeks. But the truth of the matter is that he wasn’t enough for me. I was in love with love. I was in love with the idea of finding the perfect someone for me so that I could enjoy my Valentine’s day the way the media told me I ought to.

 I didn’t listen to what God was telling me from the start.

After a year of grieving, weeping, loathing, missing, wanting, needing, hating, loving, and hoping—I’m finally realizing that he was just a stepping stone, and no matter how hard he tried, he never would have made me truly happy in the end. He wasn’t my Prince Eric, my Cory Matthews, or my Link [#nerd].

But who cares? Who cares that I’ve yet to share a Valentine’s with a hunky someone? I am finally learning how to embrace and love being single without worrying about finding the right one! Why ruin that gift?

This season is about love, right? And, I’m sure we all can agree, love comes in all shapes and sizes—so let’s not neglect the Agape side of this holiday! Tell the next person you see on the street ‘You are loved!—You are enough!—You are beautiful!’

Who knows, you may just find a new reason to love.