I watch the world from behind the glass window.
It’s lonely here, but safe; in this place I can be seen but not reached.
I go here to protect myself from love.
I’m scared to love, for love hurts.
I’m scared to be loved, for I am unlovable, and it’s only a matter of time before the world realizes this.
I press my hand to the glass. It’s cold, and I recoil. Just as I have recoiled from the world. I have climbed into the safety of my mind and taken residence there in my version of truth, the familiar replay of words that tell me I am too broken for this life, too damaged to love, not worthy of love.
Leave first, before they leave you, my thoughts taunt. Physically, I cannot leave. So, I withdraw emotionally into these four walls of my mind, these four walls that nearly enclose me in darkness, except for this one small window that keeps me scarcely connected to the world around me.
I bunker down, determined to stay here.
Except, isolation and loneliness are here, and they agitate me. I am restless. There is an intrinsic truth within me that I am made for relationship. But relationship is the very thing that has hurt me. So I push everyone away who tries to love me. I don’t want love. I want the world to align with my own truth, to validate and confirm my unworthiness so I may continue to exist here in my refuge from pain.
Soon the walls close in around me, and I struggle to breathe. Though I am safe, this world is dark, so dark, and I long for the light. I no longer want to be here. I don’t belong here. I feel smothered, trapped in my own imprisonment, and I do not know the way out.
But love does.
For love is relentless in its pursuit to heal. It is not deterred by our walls. It shines light and warmth through our glass windows and into our dark places of hiding. In spite of ourselves, we are inexplicably drawn to it. It gently calls us, but does not force us. In our own time. Softly, softly.
Love is not exclusive or selective. It does not exist only for those who deserve it, or earn it, or jump through the correct amount of hoops before they receive it. Love comes to break these barriers we insist upon—the ones we use to divide who is worthy and who is not according to our book of rules.
Love defies all we know, all logic and reason, for it is reckless, careless, contentious, ridiculous in its abundance, wasteful in its bounty.
Love chooses mercy over judgement, grace over admonishment, redemption over payment. It refuses to give up, but pulls us out of our place of safety, strips us bare and washes us clean, bandages our wounds and restores us, renews us. It tells us we are seen, heard, understood, valued, cherished. It diminishes the lies we have come to believe of ourselves, and instead whispers what is true to our hearts and minds.
Love comes not because we invite it, but because we surrender to it.
Only when we surrender will we understand the gravity of how much we are loved. How much we are here by design, planned into existence, necessary to contribute something unique to this world which nobody else can. We are not just wanted, but delighted in, and only through love can this become our truth.
Yes, at times love will break us. People will break us. Our own hearts will break us. We are safer behind the glass window. Here, we will survive.
But we will not live.
We will only find life when we choose to make ourselves vulnerable to love. When we dare to be in relationship with those around us, when we allow the benefit of love to outweigh the risk of hurt. We find life when we let go of our fears and trust that love will set us free. When we disentangle ourselves from the struggle, from the fight, and simply allow love to dwell within us. Freely given, freely received.
Behind the glass window is safe, but it’s lonely.
And so, timidly, we step out from behind the glass. We step into the light where our skin feels warm. We step into the laughter of our children, the touch of our partner; into relationship with others, into connection with all we’ve been disconnected from.
We no longer choose to only survive.
Instead, we choose love.
We choose life.
Author: Kathy Parker
Image: Andrea Rose/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel