Jessica Latshaw

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to love is to be vulnerable.

Posted By on October 19, 2012 in I Lift My Eyes Up, Thoughts and Feelings | 10 comments

This weekend, I get to marry my friends.

It’s funny, when I say that, people hesitate and then politely try to ask me if it’s some sort of threesome.

Um, no.

I’m marrying them, as in: officiating.

What an honor. What a weighty thing. I just finished writing out the whole ceremony, word for word. Because, in a similar vein to Mammy in Gone With the Wind, who knows “nothin’ bout birthin’ no babies,” I don’t know nothin’ bout marryin’ nobody! So forgive me if I don’t exactly wing it.

But, I do know this.

I know that love is a beautiful butterfly; it takes your breath away when it lands on you. Its fragility is staggering; it crushes so damnably easily.

And it’s also a garden that you grow. Yes, nobody else but you. You want a relationship that is trustworthy and peaceful and kind and compassionate and sexy and true and stands the test of time.

Then you plant those seeds. 

And then you take those seeds and you nurture them.

It’s true, love is not always up to you. Sometimes, the person to whom you’ve given your love takes its gossamer wings and plucks them off with all the tenderness of someone removing lint from their sweater. And then he takes your wardrobe and tries to give it to his brother.

Um, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

But what you can control is the way you keep loving the person you decided to love years ago. Or months ago. Or yesterday.

If things have changed, maybe you’ve stopped doing whatever it is you were doing whenever it is you made that decision.

And another thing I am struck with again while writing out this wedding: the power we hold over someone else when they give us their heart. In U2′s song, Mysterious Ways, Bono sings:

To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal;
If you wanna kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel.

And see, loving someone is the kind of double edged sword that gives somebody the ability to reach you. Whether they touch you or hurt you, though, is up to them. But you’ve gone and made your heart accessible, exposed to whatever it is they choose to do. And yeah, that should put the fear of God in you, I think. Cause it’s a big deal.

And then the next line–the one about wanting to experience the heights of love, that heady, kiss-the-sky-sensation–well, you can’t have that without some humility. Some ability to prefer the other person.

To love them.

In that I don’t always feel like putting you first, but I will anyway, kind of way.

Because I love you, it’s as simple as that.

Of course, you don’t have to do any of this.

C.S. Lewis very succinctly spells out another option here:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and you heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. 

Yes, we certainly have that option.

But I’d rather take the other one any day.

Cause not all brokenness is bad. In fact, in a lot of instances, you can’t get to the fruit of something without first breaking it. Maybe that’s the way it is with a heart. But choosing to love someone is never a waste; in fact, I think, as people who are created in the image of a God who is love, it is exactly what we are meant to do.

10 Comments

  1. Rob the first October 19, 2012

    I’m not really in a position to comment on love since I have yet to have a good experience with it, but I’m happy that you, and your friends, have all found it and I hope it treats you with kindness:)

    • Rob the first October 19, 2012

      I’d like to ammend my statement by also saying that this was beautifully written and your book is going to be amazing. Thank you for all of your encouragement over this past year; it’s meant a lot. You have been a good ‘friend’ when I didn’t have any and there will always be a special place in my heart for you because of it. It’s been a real honor to witness your growth, Jess. I hope all of your dreams come true. Take care.

    • jessica October 19, 2012

      I understand what you’re saying, absolutely. However, something I’ve learned is that being single is NOT synonymous with being without love. I learned that there does not need to be a hierarchy of love, necessarily; that there was and continues to be so much love in my life–though I remain not married. Does this make sense? Of course, I understand the dream of romantic love and, yes, of course it’s different from love between friends and family–however, don’t short change yourself by saying you can’t comment on love because you’re not in a relationship right now. Of course you can. You practice loving people all the time. They are the people in your life right now. And there WILL be someone who shares romantic love with you at some point–but don’t let yourself think that you don’t know or understand of feel love until they come along. :)

      • Rob the first October 19, 2012

        Yes, this does make sense. I thought that you were mostly referring to romantic love which is why I felt unqualified to comment. But I do understand what you are saying. Thank you for putting it in perspective and for the encouraging words, as always. :)

  2. Carly October 19, 2012

    Do you think love always stays with you? I’ve made the mistake of loving someone I can’t have, and I feel as though it has damaged me. Like I will never be able to love anyone else. Everyone always tells me feelings like that are just temporary and, logically, I know they are right, but the heart is rarely logical, so I can’t truly believe it. If love breaks your heart, do you think it is permanent?

    • jessica October 21, 2012

      First of all, I want to thank you for asking that question, Carly. Oh, and I want to say hello, too! But, man, when I read your words, my heart basically started nodding up and down, up and down, cause it’s been there. That is to say: I’VE been there.

      Twice.

      Within about two years’ time.

      I know, I know. OUCH.

      In both cases, people told me what they are telling you. And they say it with good intentions and, actually, they’re right. But those words mean nothing in the moment. Plus, I think a part of me wanted the person I loved SO MUCH, that I didn’t want to hear how I would move on someday. I wanted to die on that rock–the one on which I’d built my little home called I-love-________-and-will-forever-darnit.

      But, it’s really amazing what time and grace and healing and new adventures and new people, even, can do to a heart. In my case, I put a little healthy distance between myself and the other person. I decided to start calling different friends rather than him, when I “needed to talk.” I stopped relying on him emotionally. And I NEVER THOUGHT I’D GET OVER HIM, but I did. I honestly believe that a broken heart does NOT keep one broken forever. In fact, if you put your heart in the best, most nurturing places, the brokenness can lead to beautiful things. Looking back on my life, I can see a steady thread between my broken heart and where I am now. I wouldn’t be here (which is a place I am so grateful to be) without first having been there. And even the relationship(s) that broke my heart were not mistakes. They were, at a time, good. Until they weren’t, I mean. Until, for one reason or another, they needed to be let go of or changed or broken off, depending on the particular situation.

      But, no, dear Carly–I do not think you will stay in the broken hearted place forever. I absolutely believe that you will love another person. And that that person will return your love. And you will be able to look back at where were and say with gratitude, “That hurt like hell, but I’m not there now.”

      So sorry for your broken heart. But, believe me, good things can come of brokenness. And your story is NOT over here and now. There are new characters to meet and beautiful things in the coming chapters. You just keep taking care of your heart.

      • Rob the first October 21, 2012

        What a beautiful, thoughtful response to a beautiful, touching comment. This was good for my heart. Thank you both.

        • jessica October 21, 2012

          So glad to hear this, Rob-thank YOU:)

  3. Lindsay October 21, 2012

    I loved this, Jessic. Thanks for wrapping this concept in such beautiful words for all of us to read. I hope the wedding was wonderful! I’m sure you did a fantastic job.

    • jessica October 21, 2012

      Hi Linds!

      Well, coming from you who writes so beautifully and articulately and thinks so deeply, that’s quite a compliment. Of course, one can never really go wrong when they quote Bono and C.S. Lewis in the same post:)

      And the wedding was beautiful! I actually quite enjoyed officiating, too! My friends and I at the wedding joked about me starting a new side business and posting it on craigslist, haha–could you imagine the interesting responses I would garner!?

      Miss you, Linds.

      :)

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