Falling In Love (Is So Hard On the Knees)

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 15 February, 2007 at

There is an inconvenient fact in my past, that a certain young lady has had, and continues to have, an incredibly dramatic impact on several areas of my life. I say “inconvenient” because her influence is severely disproportionate to her actual presence in my life. I only had consistent and meaningful interaction with her for a period of a few months, and that was several years ago now. Yet, the choices I made back then continue to dictate not only what I spend my time doing, but also where and to some degree, with whom.

It was because of this girl (or more precisely, because of her father) that I started going to church in the first place. I tried to keep that fact quiet for years, although I’ve been more open about it recently. So several people knew that already. What is considerably less well known is that I followed her from community college to university. Now, she was not the only reason I chose this particular school, and I have had no trouble explaining my choice to people without ever mentioning her. I would have at least considered this school regardless. But the obvious fact remains, of the schools I did consider, I ultimately only applied to one, and it was the same one where she happened to be.

So years later, when my search for God had left me as empty and broken as ever, and I was miserable at a school that failed to meet my expectations in so many ways, I could only look back with the painful realization that I did all this for her… for nothing.

It was also inconvenient because there was someone else who was far more significant to me, yet had nowhere near the same impact on my life.

I was in love with someone else when we met. I wish that were not true, but it’s undeniable. Even worse, for the entire duration of our relationship, there was a part of me that felt that I was doing the wrong thing, and that when our relationship would reach its inevitable end, I could get back to pursuing my “real” goals. That is probably the deepest regret of my entire life, and nothing I could ever say or do can erase it. It was only after it was over that I realized what a fool I had been. (I’m a special kind of dumb that actually waits until the basket breaks and then tries to put all my eggs into it.)

Things were different after that, but in a strange way, better. Our friendship was deeper and more honest. Our relationship seemed more “real” to me, which is somewhat ironic, because we did not have a real relationship at all. But even that was not to last.

So I spent a year, a solid year, just waiting, watching, hoping. I kept my distance, afraid to get to close, as other people came and went, as new opportunities lead to new disappointments over and over again. Through it all I remained convinced that deep inside was a little girl who just wanted to be held, and loved, and told that she was beautiful… who maybe one day would realize that that was more important than having all of her expectations met.

In the meantime, I wrestled with demons.

And what of that other “inconvenient” girl? How can someone who meant so little have done so much, while someone who meant everything to me did so little?

Little, I say? Did I not have to get a cell phone plan, because long conversations on a prepaid phone were too expensive? Why, I’ve called her just to chat more than I have anyone… and there is no second place, because that’s not something I ever did before. She did not so much force me to look critically at myself, for I was pretty good at that already, but she inspired me to grow and change in a way that no one ever has. Though that was a painfully slow process, it was nonetheless real, and one that I never wanted to end.

So there I finally have the answer I was looking for: that girl may have changed my life… but this one changed me.

It wasn’t until the week after Christmas, at 28 years old, that truly understood what love was. The actions and decisions this girl was making were driving me absolutely mad. But I still wanted to make things work. I started to identify with Hosea, although that’s not a reasonable analogy as I my own actions have been very far from noble and innocent. But maybe even that is the point. I’m flawed, she’s flawed, but I was still committed to loving her. True love isn’t just a feeling, it’s a choice.

And with that, another realization. I had been head over heels in love with my first girlfriend. So much so that I was completely blind to her real nature. And when that was revealed to me, I found that as much as I was in love with her, I really did not like her… at all.

My second girlfriend, I loved. I cared about her, I enjoyed spending time with her, I found her attractive… but I always felt that there was something missing. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise, deep down I longed for a certain spark, a certain passion that just wasn’t there.

My third girlfriend was the only person that I have both loved and been in love with at the same time. Now that is a truly amazing thing that is worth holding on to. Unfortunately for both of us, it took a great while for me to reach that point, and that “same time” did not quite coincide with the period in which we were actually dating.

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