Love shouldn’t be hard.
All my life, love was hard. But it wasn’t just hard. It was painful. Devastating, even.
Love isn’t supposed to hurt. After a while, I began to believe that’s the way it was supposed to be. I convinced myself that true love meant enduring painful, disastrous, calamitous things. My belief that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” became twisted as I placed my heart into the wrong hands.
What I have learned over time as I peeled myself away from damaging love and unhealthy, codependent relationships is that we have to first seek ourselves. Before we can seek a partner in this life, we have to find ourselves.
We have to heal our own hearts. Until we do that, we will always find people whose brokenness complements our own. We will search for people who can “complete” or heal us. We will find unhealthy situations out of desperation or codependence or loneliness simply because we are too uncomfortable sitting with ourselves long enough to figure out who we are. We will settle for much less than we deserve. We will continue trying to find ourselves through others, and in my experience that only leads to more brokenness.
No one else can heal us. And we can’t heal anyone else.
We can love each other through painful times. We can support one another during times of heartache and despair. But we were never meant to heal or fix each other. As romantic of an idea as it is, we were never meant to complete each other.
I was a lost, broken, mess in the beginning of my quest for love. I stumbled into the first arms that would catch me and then just held on hoping eventually it would work itself out. I didn’t place my heart into the right hands because I didn’t have a grip of it myself. I just let it leak from my insides waiting for someone to see it, want it, and call it good.
I finally realized I had to first get my heart into my own chest. Once it was back in my own body, I had to start healing it. That process was excruciating. The mending of a heart so broken and shattered I couldn’t even hold the pieces without getting hurt again was vicious at times. Eventually, I learned I wasn’t going to be able to be the healer of my own heart entirely.
I had to give it to God.
I had to give Him those jagged fragments. I had to let Him smooth the edges. I had to let Him aggrandize the pieces back together. And I had to wait.
I had to wait however long it took for God to put my heart back together. I wanted it to be fast. That in between process of having lost my heart and having to endure its mending was brutal.
And yet, it’s been the most beautiful process of my life.
The only way out is through. There was no way around the course this time. I tried to take short cuts in the past and all it did was destroy me. So I promised myself that this time around I would wait.
As God worked on my heart, and as I worked on it alongside Him, I began to take steps. I began testing the waters. After so many years of failed relationships with sick, unhealthy people and continually placing my heart in the wrong hands out of my own sickness, I lost trust in myself and my judgment. I didn’t know how to believe my heart anymore.
That broken vessel had led me astray in the past. I learned it was the beliefs I held about myself that truly lead me astray more so than the heart itself; so I had to work on what I believed about myself in the core of my being.
I had to begin learning that I was enough and how to trust that truth.
It doesn’t happen over night. A lifetime of belief systems that destroyed the soul don’t just shift without resistance. It has taken daily work. It still does. But brick by brick I am finally paving a foundational path of self-love and self-worth, and that has made all the difference.
I have discovered that true love isn’t hard. Love is the only thing in this life that’s simple and pure.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work, and it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. But when we learn how to truly love ourselves first and stand firm in the knowledge that no matter what, we are enough, everything changes.
I stopped feeling like I needed someone else in my life to make me whole. I learned that I could be whole within myself and that even without a partner by my side; I had all the love in the world already within my own heart. I didn’t need a man to find me because I was already doing that work. I no longer felt lonely even though I was alone in terms of a romantic life partner.
While my heart still longed for eventually finding the love of my life, I surrendered to God’s plan for that part of my path. I focused on being complete within myself first and trusted that the rest would fall into place when and if it was supposed to.
I’ll never be done with this journey. I will always be learning new things about my heart and how to trust it. I will always strive to become a better version of myself in this life and I will never be perfect. But I finally am whole. My heart has been healed through God’s hands in ways I don’t quite have words for yet.
We must learn to love out of the overflow of our heart rather than its brokenness.
We will never find healthy love with another soul until we have first found healthy love for our own soul. It starts within us. Loving from a whole heart rather than a broken one and allowing God to lead the path has opened my eyes to a depth of life and love I never thought I’d find.
Today, I know for sure that real love doesn’t hurt. Real love isn’t hard. When it starts with our own heart, it’s absolutely, wholly beautiful.
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