White knights, Mr. Darcy and roses defined love for many years to me. Who doesn’t dream of being swept away in a tidal wave of passion? My 30’s are fast ending, and I no longer stare at the all-important finger, longing for someone to put a ring on it, longing to be chosen. I still hope marriage is in my future. But married or not, we all want to be picked.
It is in this unique season of life, gifting me with unexpected opportunity. Three years ago I left my life in Washington, D.C., and trekked west. My dearest friend and her family of six made the move at the same time. The D.C. life had taken a toll, and I was ready to be closer to family and be a daily presence in my godchildren’s lives (infant to six-years-old at the time of the move). Certainly not a conventional choice, yet it breathed life back into my weary soul.
I started out in an apartment one mile from their house, forsaking the bustling urban center for the suburbs. I was over most days and ceased knocking within the first week. I spent many afternoons after work holding a crying infant and quite a few toddler naptimes telling over (and over and over) The Three Little Pigs. Six months later, we realized their house basement could be easily converted into an apartment. It made sense for all of us, and we made it happen.
I didn’t realize how a simple move would transform me. I’ve had many wonderful roommates over the years and have also lived alone, but this was different. The anxiety I carried slipped away. Sleepless nights of panic attacks just stopped. I found myself busier than before and tired from all the bustle. Kids so comfortable with me, they stick out their tongues or tell me they don’t love me anymore. Excitement upon my return from trips. An ease and comfortability with being around me. And I knew I was loved.
I grew up in the age of Mother Teresa, and I wanted to emulate her faithful acts of compassion, mercy and grace. I wanted to do something big in the world. I encountered God’s love in my own pain, and I yearned to share that love with the world. But I am learning the biggest accomplishments are faithful, tiny steps. Showing up. Being present. Choosing others. Living in a basement.
Because love changes us. Love defines us.
Right before Christmas, I was talking to my five-year-old goddaughter about her big Christmas trip. She was shocked to learn I would not be traveling with her. “But the whole family is going! I am really going to miss you.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “I am really going to miss you too!” I replied, my voice wavering.
The next day I woke up to find a note stuck under my door. I opened it to find a big red heart and our two names. I thanked her for her beautiful drawing, and she said, “I am so sad I won’t see you at Christmas. So this is my love and when you miss me, you can look at it and know I love you.” Cue the tears and full heart.
She hit on something primal. She, in five-year-old fashion, recognized it matters to feel like you matter! Her sweet drawing and beautiful sentiment leaked love into all the hurts and cracks and crevices of my heart. I mattered to her. She chose me. I would be missed when we were not together.
And isn’t this what life is about? Being around people who we ache to see when we are separated, no matter the fun of the adventure? Her pure love changes me. It pushes me to pour more deeply into the lives around me.
I want to be worthy of being missed.Love changes us. It defines us. It makes us want to be worthy.Click To Tweet
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