“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis
I was seventeen when my cousin and her twin sister were born. I spent the first four weeks of their lives helping my aunt care for them. My mom said she would never forget the day I came home from spending those weeks with my aunt. She said when I came into the room where she was sitting I burst into tears and told her that I would never be able to have children. When asked why, I said it was because I would love them too much.
I can’t help but think that’s how many of us feel about the people in our lives. We’re afraid we’re going to love too much, give too much, or feel too much. We protect ourselves by pretending everything is okay so we don’t have to let anyone get too close, or we bind our hearts tightly in the hopes that they won’t be broken.
This past week I experienced the grief that comes with loving too much. I lost a friend who was very special to me. Actually, she was many things; she was my friend and confidant, my defender and protector, my go to person, and my cheerleader. She always had a way of making me feel special, and when God took her home, He took a large chunk of me with Him.
I’ll never forget the words of the pastor who preached her funeral. He told us that we had two choices. We can allow people into our lives to love us and experience the grief that comes with that love, or we can do the opposite and close ourselves off from others. The later would protect us from the pain, but it would also prevent us from experiencing all the wonderful memories that come from loving and sharing life with others.
When I look back over this last week, there’s no doubt that my heart has been changed forever. It no longer looks the way it used to because it’s now full of new cracks. I’ve decided though, that as long as I’m willing to leave those cracks open, God will fill them up with new memories. I’m not sure what the process will look like, because I will never be able to replace the gift of my friend, but if I allow it, I’m confident God will mend my heart in a way I could never have imagined.
“If you want to love someone, search their soul for where it’s broken. Find the cracks and pour your heart in… if you want to love someone.” Jason Gray
We have been given a choice in life. We can choose to love with abandon; fearlessly and unapologetically, or we can close our hearts off to others in the attempt to hide from future pain. I’m choosing to honor the memory of my friend who always lived her life to the fullest. I’m choosing to honor it by living and loving, by sharing my heart with others, and by taking the risk of having it broken over and over again.
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Photos © Salina T Gibson
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