I've always been a big fan of quotes. I love peoples opinions. The various definitions people can have for the same object or concept. Hearing how people feel whether good or bad about a given topic. There's something fascinating to me about people's words. This is of course why I do a quote of the week. There are so many great, inspiring, funny, witty, quotes out there - I want to share them with you.
My Mom once told me she didn't agree with the quote 'it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all' (Tennyson). Being young and rather naive at the time I didn't understand her response. When I asked for an elaboration she said, if you're going to lose at love why wouldn't it be better just not to love? Then you wouldn't get hurt.
I recently had a flashback of that conversation and I began to analyze my own experiences with love and loss. When I was 20 I lost a friend who was like a brother to me, to suicide. Having grown up together it was a mind numbing blow. The grief hit me in waves, sometimes leaving me feeling like when you're standing knee deep in the ocean and suddenly one wave tumbles you to shore...spitting you out in a heap, nursing your wounds.
When I moved from Tampa (to Indiana) I took one particular friend with me, in that our friendship remained solid. Seeing each other several times a year still, talking daily. Even as I headed off to college and they to pursue a career, there was no slack in our friendship. We worked hard to make sure distance wouldn't deter us. For four years, it didn't.
Losing a friend can happen in a lot of ways. One of the most devastating for me personally was losing this one to lies. After years of a friendship that was based on brutal, over-the-top honesty in which there was no topic off limits, it seems ironic it ended with lies. Dealing with lies is a tricky beast because other mistakes within friendships are far easier to forgive and repair than the loss of trust. One giant lie, even one of omission can drive a wedge in a friendship that can take years to repair. Lies tend to travel in groups, though. One lie lead to another and before it all was said and done I didn't even know who they were anymore.
Further complicating this particular loss of love in my life was the late apology. Apologies it seems are complicated in that even when one desires with all their heart to forgive, sometimes the inability to forget the deafening sound of your own heart breaking can keep reconciliation from being feasible. Forgiveness is a process. So why is it that people want you to be able to forgive and forget after 2 words? Two words didn't cause the damage, and two words can't heal the hurt. After over a year of complete silence an apology didn't hold much weight anymore. Sometimes you just know, it's over.
When this happens, the best thing you can do is forgive...and release. Some relationships aren't worth salvaging. There are people you can't afford to let back in. For me this is when I learned to set boundaries in my friendships - a valuable skill to this day I wonder how I ever lived without.
A few years later I would lose someone else I loved. Not to death or to lies this time but to the pursuit of a lifestyle I couldn't accept. Drugs and alcohol would become the new lord of his life. I would find myself fighting to save him, myself, us. As best I can describe it I felt like the line from a John Mayer song that says, 'we're slow dancing in a burning room'. When you think about a life or a relationship falling a part you never realize how slow it will happen. When you lose at love it rarely happens like in the movies, one harsh blow. For most of us it is a slow torturous process, hurting you worst when you dare to hope that things may be on the up and up.
If I'm being honest with myself and with you than it's only fair to say that the years in which I experienced these three heart breaking losses were also years when I was farthest from God. In a period of my life in which I didn't love myself and I'd put my relationship with the Lord on the back burner (at least when I wasn't in crisis), I was easy prey. It wouldn't have taken much to break my fragile heart. I didn't know then how to guard it.
It's been years since all of these incidents happened. I've grown up, moved away, and rebuilt healthy relationships with my God, my family, my real friends, and even myself. In hindsight I often wonder if I'd known that each of these relationships would have ended in just the way they did, would I have still moved forward with them?
That's a tricky question because I see how there was beauty in the ashes. The person I've grown into is certainly a product of the past I've overcome. I see how each of those people's impact on my life has in a sense molded me into the person I am today.
Was it worth it? Well.. I miss the first person often. After his death I experienced one of the greatest victories of my life. One I couldn't help but think wasn't right without him there. In fact, I'd venture as far as to say the world isn't quite right without him and I'm not sure I'll ever feel differently about that. He taught me so much, I wish I'd had the chance to thank him. He cared for me in a way that changed my life. I look forward to many chats in heaven someday...and I know that loving him was worth every second.
In the second and third case, well I guess if I'm being honest (which I recently promised I would be) then I'd take back those experiences. Did God use them in my life? Absolutely. But I can't help thinking there was probably a much easier way to learn the same lessons. While I've forgiven them, taken responsibility for my share, and even had some contact with them over the past few years - the best part has been getting to a place in my life where I wish nothing but the best for them. All the while I continue to believe that doesn't include me in any finite way.
Is it better to lose your love or lose out on love? The question remains.