While I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed last week this post caught my attention:
“Never get too attached to someone because attachments lead to expectations, and expectations lead to disappointment.”
How did she know what I was struggling with for the past days and weeks? Of course, it all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Especially in my life. It’s tale as old as time. I move somewhere new, make new friends, become attached, share my heart, listen to their heart, reveal my dreams, help make their dreams come true…
and then like *that*, it’s all gone. Circumstances have moved us apart either relationally or geographically or both. No more person, connection, fun. Only memories now.
For real? I did it again.
I fell for it once again.
I gave my heart, opened the secret doors of my soul, thought perhaps, “Ah, now, finally. Somebody that will be here for me who I can also be there for. I’ve found a safe place. I’m so happy. This will never end.”
But it does end. again. and again. and again.
And I suffer. I want to give up, run away, bury my pain. Yet each time thereafter I only seem to learn to love harder and deeper and then, of course, the suffering only gets worse.
When will I ever learn? When will I learn that attachment and love lead to expectations which ultimately lead to disappointment?
I mean, really, what kind of expectations are we talking about here? Were my expectations for self gain and personal advancement? that I wanted everything only for myself? No, I really do love people and absolutely feel so fulfilled and in love when I can help them succeed. What’s so wrong with that?
And then I think of stories of those around me and combined the questions get harder. These are difficult stories, difficult questions, both yours and mine. What did we expect when we decided to love? “that my church would continue to bless and change the city and be my family instead of abruptly closing? that perhaps my 3 month old son would outlive me instead of dying in his sleep? that my boss would affirm me instead of deal me verbal abuse? that my friend I brought to live with me to help would appreciate me instead of taking advantage of my house and generosity? that my 19 year old brother with a heart for the needy in depraved nations would live to spread the kingdom there instead of dying of cancer? that my boyfriend would keep to the dreams we had together instead of leaving me and dating another girl within a few months? that the guy I respected and learned to love would take care of me in our relationship and protect me instead of raping me and abusing me in total isolation? that my marriage we both committed to would last wonderfully forever instead of falling to pieces in front of my family, friends and children?”
Don’t even get me started with my list of disappointments with God. He could’ve stepped in, he could’ve saved the day, he could’ve redeemed, he could’ve healed. Isn’t that what he is? The Victor, Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Friend? Were my expectations too much, God? Were they really evil? What do you want out of me? I thought that if I delighted myself in you then you would give me the desires of my heart? It seems all that happens to me is a lullaby of heart breaks.
Because that’s what love will do to you. It makes you feel. It moves and stirs in your heart until you explode and have to do something, anything about it. It’s real and actionary.
It’s totally unsafe. and has great expectations.
And sometimes those expectations don’t line up with reality. And then disappointment and heartache flood your life.
Because those that love most suffer most.
You want to escape pain and suffering and hurt and disappointment and tears and sobbing and sleepless nights and charred dreams?
Never, ever love.
Don’t ever give your heart away. Don’t take any risks. Never expect anything from anyone.
Be numb. Have no feelings. Close your heart. Lock the door. Throw away the key.
Because if you have no expectations, you can be sure to never get hurt, right?
Can you live like that? Yeah, neither can I. But it’s scary that I can easily talk myself into living a life like that by making small decisions moment by moment to cover my emotions and walk safely into relationships, making sure that I’ll get what I expect without hurting myself or the other person. I hate that and I declare I’m waging war on it.
Long story short, love is extremely risky, and, yes, the harder the love the harder the fall, but also the harder the joy.
Which is exactly why Jesus holds the ultimate record in both suffering and joy. Because he loves so so very much. Can you even imagine? Think of the worst tragedy you have gone through with a friend. It hurt so much because you loved that person so much. Now imagine Jesus taking every tragedy and sin and hurt and disappointment and guilt all at one time and experiencing it fully in every fiber of his being. No, it really is unimaginable. Yet he took on that suffering for the joy that was set before him. His extreme love led him directly into extreme suffering so that we wouldn’t have to ever be alone and that we could come out of the other side of love in extreme joy even through the suffering.
I want that love. The love that gives freely and, yes, even unconditionally. I’ve had to come to grips that I will love you, because I love you, because I love you, because I love you. Loving you has no condition and has nothing to do with how you treat me, what you think of me, if you stay in my life, if you date me, if you commit to me, if you reciprocate, if you affirm me, if you appreciate me. Jesus taught me that, by the way. And I want the joy he has. I’ve tasted it, and I know there’s suffering along the way, but I know the joy is worth it.
So there is a choice to love or not to love, but really, there is no choice. I simply cannot live and not love. I have my fights and struggles in it, and somehow I come out on the other end of it with revelations like this. And then I share them. which makes me accountable. Nice one, Angela.
So you’re afraid to love? Great, me too. Call your fear out, write it down, scream it out to God, ask a lot of whys, get really uncomfortable with your real thoughts. And then choose to walk into love in the midst of your fears, even if you feel like you’re drowning.
Or you can choose to never, ever love. and never, ever suffer. and never, ever enjoy anyone or anything.
Seems pretty safe (and terrible) to me.