Love Isn’t All I Need, But I Do Need It

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Last night, two of my coworkers and I had a movie night. Like any sensible 20-somethings, we watched Frozen (don’t hate). Olaf is my favorite character (and Sven). Olaf is one of the sweetest characters in that whole movie, and for all his goofiness, he is packed full of wisdom. For example, let’s just talk about the entire scene when Hans has left Anna to die of cold. Olaf shows up to save the day, lighting a fire at risk to his own personal safety. Anna laments that she doesn’t know what love is, and Olaf says, “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.” That’s big stuff for a little snowman that hasn’t been alive very long. And then he tells Anna, as his nose drips off his face, “Some people are worth melting for.”

When I got home after the movie night, still pondering these words, I thought about my whole anti-romance kick that I’ve been following for years. I kept saying, “I don’t want to get hurt again.” I love people. I love my parents, my siblings, my grandma, my extended family, my friends, and my dog. But all that love comes with a risk.

Angel died last year. I loved her with all my heart and that was the first time she left me. It was a tempestuous (I love that word) year with my family. My friends are scattered all over the country. Anyone can leave you, anyone can be gone in an instant.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh, I tried not to get close with too many people. I would just be gone soon anyway. But I’m still here, and now I have so many people that are becoming close friends the more we hang out. Katrina came line dancing with me a few times and is one of my confidants, Shannon and I have adventures, Kristin understands my love for Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Disney movies, Alaina and I talk about children’s books, John texts me to see how I’m doing, Alex recommends books, and Phil helps me grow as a person. And those are only some of the amazing people I met in Pittsburgh.

Inspired by Olaf, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13. Everyone knows it: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Love is patient. I am not a patient person. Could I be patient for another person? I don’t know. Love is kind. Can I be a beacon of kindness for another person and treat them as he or she deserves? I don’t know. Love protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Can I do that? I don’t know.

Love is a risk. It’s always a risk. And the probability of falling in love again means I most likely will get hurt. My goal is to work on my trust issues to figure out if I can be the kind of love that trusts and isn’t ready to give up after five minutes. Or expect the man in my life to give up after five minutes.

So I asked myself, is love worth it? Is it worth the pain and heartache again? Yes, because I am better prepared. Yes, because I am more honest with myself. It probably will blow up in my face. But the chance to love and to open my heart to others is worth more than never having taken that risk at all. If it makes me a better person, it is worth it.

I need love. I want love. Falling in love is like jumping off a cliff when a pack of snarling wolves is after you: Sometimes you just have to do it.

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Welcome, Christmas!

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I have not been this excited for Christmas in years. It took all my self-control to not burst into Christmas carols before Thanksgiving (don’t worry, I didn’t – I have standards, after all).

Today is the first day of Advent, a time of preparation for our Lord to come to us on Christmas day. Day one of my preparation involved putting my little tree up in my bedroom and decorating it with my favorite Christmas ornaments (a T.A.R.D.I.S., Rapunzel, Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse as the Brave Little Tailor, Max from the Grinch, and many others).

Whether you are religious or not, this time leading up to Christmas is a great time to feel thankful for what you have, as well as to think of others. One of my things for Advent is to try and get rid of a grocery bag of stuff a day. It’s amazing how much you don’t need when you really think about it (even though I am horrible about getting rid of stuff). Gazing at a stuffed animal I haven’t thought about in years makes me think, “There is a kid out there who would love to cuddle with this thing.”

So, that’s my challenge for you. Help someone this holiday. Welcome Christmas by being friendly to everyone, even the people you don’t like, which is my least favorite thing to do. After all, there’s so much hate in this world, so let’s make our corner of the universe just a little brighter.

Thankful for My Life

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Today an old friend texted me to say she was thankful for me, but also for the people and experiences that shaped me and made me who I am. Wow. That blew me away. So many times in my life, I want to hate the bad and hurtful experiences and people in my life. I mean, it was terrible. It seared and burned.

But without those people and experiences I would not be me. Without bad things, we would never appreciate the good. So today, I am thankful for my life, even the regrets. I am thankful for the people who hurt me and the people who loved me. I am thankful for my life because it is a beautiful life just the way it is.

Where Is Your Heart?

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Different things hold importance to me at different times of my life. Sometimes the things I love fluctuate in phases, just like the moon. But when I love something either the moon is full or you can’t see it at all. There is no half or crescent moon. To quote the false Isabella Thorpe in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, “I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” When I fall in love, I fall in love.

Ever since I moved back to the Pittsburgh area, I’ve been asking myself this same question over and over. Where are you? What is important to you? What do you hope to take with you wherever you go? And, the big question, where are you now?

Physically, I am in Pittsburgh. But they say that home is where the heart is, and mine is always with the friends I left behind in Ohio, even if they are no longer living in Ohio. Once I warmed up to the idea of living in a state that everyone back home criticized, there was no going back. Now I can’t imagine not living in Ohio.

But that’s the beautiful thing about hearts. They hold a lot of love. So it is okay for my heart to be split between two places. It is okay for me to belong to both Ohio and Pennsylvania. As I thought about that today, I remembered the quote from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”

December marks one year until my planned graduation date for my Master’s degree. So, very possibly, I only have one more year left in Pittsburgh. My heart is here, there, and everywhere. And that’s okay. If reading Harry Potter taught me anything, it’s that love is one of the most powerful forces in this universe.

Wants vs. Needs

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I haven’t been this excited for Christmas in a long time. It’s not the gifts (that part always stresses me out and is part of the reason I have been such a Grinch the past few years). It’s the idea of spending time with my friends and family, and of the feeling of joy pervading throughout the air.

I have a lot of things to be thankful for this upcoming holiday season. I am thankful for my friends and my family, for a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and the life I have been given. My first semester of grad school will conclude the first week of December (that is a joyful thought in itself). I am thankful that I can live. That in itself is a blessing.

Even though I am of the mindset that Christmas should NOT come before Thanksgiving, I still think it is never too early to think about ways we can better ourselves. It is never to early to start implementing those changes.

Ever since I moved back home, I have taken a tiny room at the back of our house. The reason for that was when my dog Angel was alive, she was older and couldn’t make stairs well. With me being downstairs, she could come into my room much easier if she wanted to sleep with a human nearby. Now that she is gone (and I miss her terribly), I still have that small room at the back of our house and more stuff than I should have in a room that size.

A friend of mine said that for Lent, she took a plastic grocery bag and filled forty of them, one for every day during Lent. I loved that idea and so with Advent around the corner, I figured that was a great time to clear out the stuff I don’t need. Stuff is stuff. It fills space in our life, space that could be better used for holding love and joy. So that is my big thing for Advent. I do not need as much stuff.

But I do need love, friendship, joy, peace, contentment, gratefulness, and happiness. That won’t come from owning things. That will come from the people in my life, through interactions with them, and through giving. This could be giving a physical gift or it could be giving of my time or money, two things I hold dear since I don’t have much of either.

This past Sunday, I went to the Pittsburgh Zoo with my friends to celebrate my birthday, which was a lot of fun. However, the reality is that I can’t afford to take time and money every week for a new adventure. I want a new adventure, but I don’t need it. What I do need is contentment in where I am in life, even if it doesn’t seem like the most “exciting” life. Every life is a God-given blessing, even if it seems small. Sometimes the smallest ways we give are just what the world needs.