*Cue the Parisian cafe music with the romantic melodies and crooning jazz instruments*
Recently here during the last year or so, I have been told that I’ve never seemed so happy. That there’s something different about me. Something jovial. Light. Free.
And that, friends…is because I am in love. Yes. I didn’t need to say it, because it is clearly, plastered all over my face, 24/7.
And to be honest, this is the first real time that I can say I’ve been in love with someone. Relationships in the past, I never really let them in – I never let them see the true me, never revealed my whole heart. I was terrified of doing that, fearing that, by him knowing my past and the things I don’t proudly broadcast to the world, that I would be immediately be disqualified: rejected as defective.
Letting go and breaking down those walls has been simultaneously the most terrifying, and yet absolutely the most beautiful thing in the entire world. Period. And it’s only because of the man I love, that that process was as seamless and gentle as it was.
But, having been “that girl” that kept love at an arm’s distance, I wanted to share a few things that I wish I would have know then, about falling in love.
1). When it’s with the right person, opening your heart is not as scary as you think – because they will make you feel safe.
I remember the first time, going out with my special gentleman on an official “date” (we had been friends for 7 years prior), it was just so easy to open up to him about things I never dreamed of talking about on a “first date.” We talked about faith. About our families. About our childhoods. He is an amazing listener — which works well, because…ahem…I like to talk. But there was just this accepting presence about him that my heart was safe with him. And that quality has only grown.
He has never doubted my dreams or my purpose. Never laughed at me, or made me feel dumb. Only support. Only encouragement. Only empowerment. Which has allowed me to feel safe to let down my walls and open my heart.
Which leads me to…
2.) It opens up the freedom and joy that comes from being your total and complete self, and being loved for it.
I am more myself with Steven than I am by myself…does that even make any sense? Loving another person allows you to be the version of yourself you want to be. It calls you to your higher purpose; your “best self;” your walls-down, honest, unpretentious self. Why? Because there is someone who sees who you really are, and loves you just the same.
The night I showed him the video of my talk from Memphis, where I shared my story — aka, my battle with anorexia and all the despicable garbage that went along with it — I was so nervous. I think I applied deodorant 3 times before he arrived. But we just sat on my couch, his arm around me, and he just hugged me afterwards, and said some really beautiful things that I hold close in my heart.
That acceptance and love — is freedom. It is just this open-the-flood-gates JOY that cannot be dimmed or muted or snuffed out. It is powerful, and has an impact on every area of life.
3.) Your priorities change.
There’s always the stereotype, at least among girls, that once one of your gal pals gets a boyfriend, that you never see her anymore. I mean, I was that “single friend” for a long time, so I can fully attest to this fact: that yeah…it is definitely a thing. (And I have really made a conscious effort to maintain my gal pal relationships! Plus, it helps that Mr. Handsome and I have the same friendgroup!)
But there really is something to it, that when you are in love, your priorities change. You want to love the other person. You want to be with them, spend time together, do things to bring them happiness, show them that you care – that you love them.
You want the best for them. You want to see them achieve their dreams. And what an incredible feeling when they want to help bring yours to fruition too.
Love is a team. And when you’re both heading towards the same goal, it’s a beautiful thing.
4. Love unites us with the Father.
All of this, leads to this singular point: God is love. Loving another person, and being loved in return — that is a glimpse of Heaven. Jesus’ entire life…up to and including His death on the Cross…were demonstrations of the ultimate, self-giving love. Love that sacrifices. Love that gives and forgives. Love that is the foundation of our faith.
We were made to love. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:27-29
And there is something so beautiful, knowing that you hold someones heart in your hands, and they, yours. That is the ultimate trust, and the ultimate freedom. And by loving, bringing us into closer connection with our Father, who first showed us what it is to love.
Obviously, I don’t have it all figured out yet. There’s a lot I still have to learn, but I am excited to discover those new lessons, and uncover more about life’s most beautiful gift. And I couldn’t be more grateful to God to be learning those things alongside such a wonderful man.
What’s something that you’ve learned about love? What do you wish you could tell your younger self about falling in love?
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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