The way I loved him.

We called it a “Sunday picnic” as the two of us sat in my car eating tacos with the windows down, the rain falling steadily outside. We sat in comfortable silence, gazing out at the train tracks ahead, both tired from staying up late to gossip and watch movies the night before.

Somewhere in the middle of daydreaming about a trip to the sunshine and swirling curiosities about my future, a song came on and my mind jumped to him. I felt my heart start to beat a little faster as I quickly reached for my phone to skip to the next song, but it was already too late. Two verses is all it took to take me back to sitting in the passenger seat next to him on that summer afternoon with the windows rolled down and his hand on my knee. I remember the way he looked at me well…gentle, with such adoration. I will always be a sucker for those damn green eyes, so full of kindness and mischief and fun. They made it easy to swiftly surrender ones heart.

She asked me a question and I snapped back to the present. This wasn’t the first time I had  inadvertently fallen down the rabbit hole reminiscing back to memories with him. I had tried to do all of the “mandatory” letting go things after we said goodbye. My friends had convinced me that severing ties on social media and giving back old sweatshirts and avoiding pictures on my phone would help me to move on. And in a way they were right. Tangible memories in the form of movie tickets and pictures and oversized shirts are much less likely to cause grief when tucked away in a box in the back of my closet for the time being. But as nice as it would be to have the ability to move on as soon as the break-up box is packed, the reality is that love encompasses more than just old t-shirts and pictures on social media.

My love for him grew as we walked through life for months and months together. For eight months, we experienced twists and turns and trials and triumphs and lots of in betweens…side-by-side. During that eight months, my heart grew as he made a place in it with each song that he sang to me and every place we explored together and each person we spent time with. I spent eight months falling in love with him and all of the pieces that made up our time together. When you love someone like that, break-up boxes don’t do much to help you move on. I loved him more deeply than I had ever loved anyone, so instead of fighting my feelings after things ended, I decided to allow myself to grieve for as long as I needed by remembering the sweet times with him when I wanted to and by letting myself miss him whenever I missed him.

The rain began to let up as we rolled up the windows and made our way back home. The comfortable silence fell on us again as we returned to getting lost in our own thoughts. I thought back to that summer afternoon again and wondered if I would ever stop loving him. I came to the conclusion that I won’t. Deep down, I know that the way I fell in love with him wouldn’t allow for me to stop. At some point, I’m sure the love will change. As time creates enough space for healing and growth and new beginnings. As sweet memories with him slowly stop making my heart beat faster than normal. But, even after the break-up box is removed from my closet and new songs start to play on the radio, I know the memories won’t ever fade completely. They will always hold their own place in my heart and he will always be the boy with the green eyes full of kindness and mischief and fun who I love.

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The man with God in his eyes

The numbers are staggering. Thousands upon thousands. It’s so easy to grow numb to the statistics as they climb higher and higher.

But then I drive by on a Friday night and see you in a doorway, hugging your knees in a futile attempt to keep warm on a night where you can see your breath.

I see you huddled in a flimsy tent in the pouring rain, trying to escape the pain in restless sleep.

I see you on the corner of the street next to my work every. single. day. Holding that cardboard sign that’s as worn as your downcast eyes. You wait patiently for someone to stop and extend just a fraction of mercy. For someone who won’t treat you like an inconvenience.

Oh, this heartbreaking reality. You are a cruel and tangible reminder that we are not in Eden any longer.

I stop my car and roll down the window to hand you a box of protein bars from my passenger seat and feel my body pulse with conviction as I note the stark contrast between my well manicured pink nails next to your wrinkled dirty hands.

“God bless you sweet girl.”

You are so gracious and thankful. I can see God in your eyes when you look at me. They are worn, but they are kind and sincere. You aren’t a statistic. You aren’t just one of the thousands. You are a human being. You are just like me.

…Except you don’t have a home. You don’t have a warm bed and a soft pillow to rest your head on at night. And I begin to feel ashamed as I realize how often I am the person who drives past you on the street corner without so much as a second thought. How often I am the person who treats you like an inconvenience.

The truth is, I am selfish. I put my own desires before the needs of others all too often. I spend my money on manicures and lattes while you are sitting on a corner, starving and alone. I invest money, time and energy on things that bring fleeting satisfaction while people around me struggle for food and clothing. I claim to want a solution, but by innocently standing by, I am part of the problem.

The conviction tugs at my insides. I don’t want to be part of the problem. I don’t want to help just when it’s convenient. I want love. Real love. The kind that makes sacrifices and puts my own needs on the back burner. The kind that allows me to recognize myself in strangers on street corners. The kind that sees human beings where the rest of the world sees hopeless statistics. So this is my prayer tonight,

God, will you break my heart for what breaks yours. Will you allow me to feel burdened by the things that bring you pain. Will you grow my heart for people and expand it so there is room for more mercy and generosity. Show me a love infused with sacrifice and humility and boldness. 

God, teach me to love.