I’m coming to realize that all I’ve ever wanted since I was a little girl was to feel cherished, irreplaceable, and safe. My favorite and most memorable childhood pastime was playing dress up. Sitting here and thinking back on these simple times, I can still feel the joy that raced through my heart as I sang and danced around my house, pretending to be someone else; someone of the utmost importance and value. As I grew older I learned that one way I could find this sense of security was by pouring my heart into the characters that surrounded me.
I find this to be one of the biggest reasons for my love of period dramas. A favorite thing of mine to do is find a character that I can relate to and fully experience the dramatic events that they go through. Heck! Even if I have nothing in common with the character, I will seek out one tiny thing to hold onto that connects me to them until I deeply feel their pain, their joy, and their story.
Take Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. I have pretty much nothing in common with her. I am not a spoiled Southern belle, I do not have a 17-inch waist, and though I may have the tendency to exaggerate for embellishment, I am not nearly as self-centered, bratty, and prone to hysterical outbursts as she is. Even with all of these key differences, my young heart somehow became very connected with hers as I watched her story unfold. Even today, I feel precisely what she feels when she goes through the events of the movie. When her heart is taken advantage of by Ashley, my heart is taken advantage of. When she falls for Rhett Butler, I fall for Rhett Butler. When Rhett leaves Scarlett to Ashley at the end of the movie, I feel every single piece of her heartbreak once she realizes how foolish she had been to cling to unavailable Ashley for so long.
The point is that I have always found ways to invest my whole heart into the lives of others. Sometimes this has been such a wonderful thing. The ability to connect at the deepest levels to others can create powerful bonds and bring a lot of beauty into this world. But more often than not, I have allowed it to come to the point where I have given others power over my heart, whether they asked for it or not. Instead of guarding my heart within my connections, I have left it–my most prized possession–totally vulnerable to many who enter into my life, simply because I have wanted to be cherished and unrejectable. Being open and loving is a miraculous thing and I’ve come to see that there must be some self-protection when pouring into the hearts of others. A balance in order to benefit everyone you come in contact with. If you empty yourself without maintaining resources to replenish yourself, any attempt at helping others will likely be insincere and fruitless.
Over these past couple of years, I have been working so hard to learn how to not let others have control over my life. And, I’ll tell you, it truly is a choice. I’ve had to learn how to take responsibility for my reactions because I am the one who decides how I handle encounters with others. There are two sides. They act and I have the power to react in any way that I choose. Oh boy, has it been one heck of a process as this has been one of the greatest battles for my sensitive heart to overcome. Though it has the potential to be if not tended to, I don’t see my sensitivity as purely negative. I simply want to know how to be sensitive to others without letting their problems, criticisms, or emotions rip me up inside. What’s the healthy balance between showing empathy and fostering my own strength? I’ve been fighting against the habit of allowing empathy to drag me into the lowest of lows when it should really be a beautiful thing used for healing and the good of others. I really believe that time and self-examination are the keys to finding this balance within myself. Time is just a tricky thing to wait on.
Now over these past few weeks, I’ve specifically had love on my mind and many questions have come to me. How do I love without giving so much that I end up wounded? Or is love about giving until you cannot give anymore and risking taking in some wounds? How do I love with complete purity, sacrifice, and steadfast dedication? Is this even possible and how do I love myself in the mix of all of this?
With all of these questions inside of me, I absolutely believe that the heartbreak we often experience in this life is worth the love that is gained through it. If I love with all of my heart and experience disappointment, it will have all been worth it because I truly believe that love calls for true sacrifice. Still, I don’t believe that it calls us to give up the deepest parts of ourselves to just anyone. That’s where wisdom and discipline come into action. How can we love if we are empty? We must protect the core of who we are. Then, we can find the strength and discernment to truly love.
I want freedom to encompass my love. Loving others without the chains of fear holding me down. Loving sacrificially while remaining true to the core of who I am. And I know that I can’t truly display or even accept this kind of love until I heal the wounds of my past and understand that I am cherished, endlessly wanted, and of value because of the truths that God has spoken into my very being. Through this painful process of life, I am learning important characteristics of this love that I can often be caught daydreaming of.
Love will give. Wait. Hope. Stand firm and protect. Prioritize. Sacrifice. Accept. Challenge. Forgive. Love fights. It is not for the weak.
And perfect love heals.
So may I, and all those I come across, discover the courage to act with this kind of powerfully infinite love.
(With a fullness of) Love,