How do you choose who to be?
On Christmas Eve, my favorite night of the year, I send personalized texts (no mass holiday texts ever please!) to those dearest to me saying something sweet about how I care for them. From my childhood friends in California to my besties in New York to all my loved ones here in Tennessee, my texts zigzag their way around the country spreading well-wishes and gratitude. But I stopped in my tracks when an incredibly important but now broken relationship crossed my mind. Earlier in the year things had gone awry, but I still cared for them deeply and we were attempting to salvage friendship. I looked down at my phone, at that stupid little cursor staring back at me, making me more and more anxious with each of its judgmental blinks. “So?” it said. “SO? What are you gonna say? Huh? HUH?”
As I sat staring at the text bubble, I wrestled with what (if anything) to say. Should I just let it lie, or might they be waiting for a sign of warmth from me? Would they roll their eyes and toss the phone back down after seeing my name? But what it all comes down to is, what do I want to put of myself out there in the world, regardless of what I may or may not gain from it? What do I want to be known for, known as? What do I want my words or actions to say about me? Do I want them to portray me as manipulative, or needy, or hurtful, or selfish? No. Honestly, I really do not. I want anything that comes from me to say love. Honesty. Kindness. Humility.
So, having had that conversation with myself, I came to the conclusion that I must speak my heart, because what was truly in my heart was only Love (yes, capital L), and I refuse to restrain Love where it exists. We cannot force it on each other, but we must always, always offer it if we’re able. So I spoke the truth. Merry Christmas. Praying for you and yours. Hope to see you soon. And it was all sent with the purest of intentions of repair and the deepest heartfelt sincerity. Did it expose me, and show my heart? Oh God, yes. But that’s okay. I want the world (and my estranged friend) to see my heart. I want to be exposed. I want to lay my tender heart at the feet of anyone I can love. What a terrifying but exhilarating place to be.
I recently came across a note I wrote to myself about a year ago, as I was just beginning the journey of softening and warming my cold, sheltered heart. It said, “I want to lose things.” What I meant when I wrote that was that I wanted to have things to lose. Up to that point I had built walls between me and anything I might get hurt by losing, and it made for a very empty and lonely life. I wrote that note as a prayer, saying, “I’m so afraid to care about something enough that I would be hurt to lose it, but not having anything is even worse.” Well, I got what I asked for, didn’t I? Even though it broke in the end, I’d found an extraordinary person who had bettered my life in monumental ways. I lost them, but the having them made it worthwhile.
What a bizarrely answered prayer, but answered nonetheless.