For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with the idea of love.
I had a teacher in high school that used those exact words to define the word “infatuation”. Being in love with love. So there it is, a word for it: infatuation.
I have wanted to fall in love since I was a little girl. I have been experiencing infatuation all of these years. I was convinced I was in love with my male best friend when he moved out of my neighborhood when I was eight years old. And my first heartbreak was the day he left. Then there was the boy I sat next to in middle school who was transferring to a different high school. My second big heartbreak was the day we graduated middle school. Then there was a few boys in high school who I never got quite as serious about, but I definitely had a few crushes that came and went. I grew and matured in my understanding of love and what it entailed all throughout those various years, but it doesn’t mean I ever fully let go of the desire to experience it.
After all of that came college. College was a whole different ballfield when it came to love and dating. I began college with a friendship with a guy who I considered to be best friends with (and who I was not-so-secretly in love with – he actually asked me how I felt about him one day then told me he wasn’t interested). That relationship was a mess to begin with, one of the most emotionally abusive situations I’ve ever been in (it’s a long story, but he was verbally abusive). After years of fighting against both him and myself to get out of that relationship, I finally ripped out of it, but not without a broken heart I kept trying to mend and having shattered multiple times over again. I then tried to fill that gaping hole in my heart by becoming very close with another guy friend my second year of college, also falling much more head over heels for him than I would like to admit. When that entire friendship crashed and burned less than a year after it began because he wasn’t interested in me the same way, my heart was yet again destroyed. Then, in my final year of college, after finally coming to a place of desperation, I downloaded a few dating apps, on the surface telling myself I didn’t need love but that I was just curious if the apps had anything to offer me. Christian ones at first, but after those got me nowhere, I eventually downloaded Tinder. A few failed date plans, dates that went great but never continued past the first, and a mess of other issues later, here I am, twenty-one years old, never having been in a relationship or even have been asked out on a real date (on the one date I’ve ever been on – which was a Tinder date – I was the one who asked if it could happen, NOT him).
For years while I was falling in love with men who I’d later find out weren’t interested, I started to believe that it was something that was inherently wrong with me that was causing them to reject me. That I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough. That I came off too strong and bold and loud. That I wasn’t good enough for them. That all of these things would keep me from finding the love I wanted more than anything else in the whole wide world.
Yet – despite all of this and how much I feel like on the surface I can say I want to give up on love after all these years, these failed attempts, and these hurts – I still very much struggle with how stinkin’ badly I want it.
I want to fall in love with a man who loves Jesus more with every breathe He takes. Who wants to see the bareness of my soul and will still love me even after seeing the darkest parts. Who will teach me to fall more in love with the Lord each day. Who can teach me to be a better person, friend, woman of God. Whom I can serve with and grow with and learn from and laugh beside and walk through life with. That’s really all I’ve wanted more than anything for as long as I can remember. And I don’t have a clue when I’ll find it, but my goodness, how terribly, utterly, miserably badly I WANT THAT.
Where is that love for me? Where, God, WHERE? At this point in my life, I find myself looking in all the wrong places for it – and looking for it in anyone who walks into my life who seems like a generally positive candidate. I find myself going so far as to think about what a very distant future together could look like with someone I have only had one meeting with. And quite honestly, I don’t know how to stop doing this. Everytime I think I make it to a good point where I’ll have good self-control about a relationship, I end up falling head-over-heels and getting way more hurt than I ever wanted to. And it’s a cycle I just don’t know how to stop, because all I want is to feel wanted.
This literally happened today. I had lunch with a really cute guy who has a huge heart for Jesus and a handful of likes in common with me. And I started making him and my meeting a way bigger deal in my head than I should have on the surface as soon as we were no longer together this afternoon. I blew it up in my mind, making myself yet again too excited about even the slight potential of falling in love with this person. And now I sit here hours later, wanting to bang my head against a wall, telling myself that I need to be careful, because I don’t need another tally on my track record of friendships-turned-crushes-turned-rejection-turned-heartbreaks.
I really hate that my whole habit of blowing love up in my mind to this big, huge, extravagant thing has become such an idol. And pray about it as I may, I think it will always be my own “thorn in my flesh”, as Paul discusses in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. This thorn, this desire that often becomes bigger than God to fall in love with a man, is an idol and a weakness if mine. And despite how hard it is to push back against it, especially when I want nothing more to receive that love and attention from men, I think that maybe this thorn is here to remind me that people are not to be worshipping, but God is. That He says, “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Yet again, God, You blow my mind. Sufficiency cannot come from man alone or from anything on this earth except You, and my attempt to find sufficiency in anything else is an idol and therefore, an area of weakness for me. Thus, through this battle against the thorn, Your perfect power will shine through. Now, I just ask you, please oh please give me the strength to not dive completely and utterly headfirst into the first glimpse of marital love You decide to give me, whenever you choose to do so. Please teach me how to guard this fragile, fluttery, lie-believing heart of mine.
Gah. Wow. That felt good to write out and process. Isn’t it cool when God reveals truths to you about the deepest parts of your being the second your writing about those things? Thank ya, Jesus.
Now please just help me tolerate this thorn in my flesh and to see Your beauty shine through it, teaching me to never put anything in my life higher than Yourself.