Worst Thing; Best Thing

What is the worst thing that has happened to you?

In answer I’ve heard some grisly and heart-wrenching stories.

“Love,” I say.

The worst thing that happened to me was meeting a handsome guy and being gobsmacked, befuddled, bamboozled, unarmed, and captured by love… at the age of fourteen. In retrospect, my best thing was somehow also my worst. By falling in love so young, life no longer had a path of its own. I would not study or travel or try things without Jamé. I would not struggle or be forced to learn to trust myself. I would not find my faith or my calling or my greatest weakness or community or friends or my identity apart from him.

The worst part is how well he cares for me. I’ve been given a charmed life… I see myself in my daughter, Cierra, when she waits for her dad to come up with a solution. I wilt a little. But she is not me. And, I thrill at also seeing her get angry when she doesn’t get something she wants. This doesn’t mean she’s a brat. It means that if her dad doesn’t have the solution, or she doesn’t know how to get what she needs by staying local, she’ll travel half way (or all the way) around the world to develop and find it–namely her strength, independence, her own faith–with intentional and well-thought steps to do so.

I too have made some giant leaps away from the familiar, but only with a man at my side. I don’t yet know how to be anything other than a kept woman, and a best friend. I am just now learning to barter and tap the good resources that others have offered, and as soon as I do, I fear failure because that is also part of this worst thing that happened. I learned early to feel entitled and to shrink down and become immobilized rather than try and fail by myself.

I’m about over that. This worst dark side of love is as hard as any worst thing, and it’s taking such an unbearably long time to get past it, through it–this fear of failing or blame. Maybe my identity will finally be solid when I’m an old woman. Maybe not until I reach the next life. Thanks to Jamé, Jesus, and the length of eternity, this is not the worst thing that could happen.

Best Thing

The best thing in my life was meeting James Wallace, yes, even at age 14.

I thought you said it was the worst.

Yes, meeting and falling in love so young. But when can LOVE, true love, God-orchestrated, miraculous love, baby love that has all the goods of growing into mature, seasoned love not be the best thing? Love that broke open my puny self and stretched me to heights and horizons I knew nothing of?

Did our roots tangle around the other? Of course, but we also wove dreams together into tapestries of adventure, vocation, and children… and one sweet black dog.

Did we live out of balance, yes, but I’m responsible for my half of that. I tend to be “all in” or “not interested”. James is the even keel to my ecstasies and agonies. Jamé creates “normal” around here.

I will keep asserting myself and speaking truth into the pathology of us. We both matter. That means my depth and intensity, as well as my fatigue matters, and this gentle friend of mine attends to it when I ask. Love– difficult tried and true love–is the definitely best thing.

“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”  –Victor Hugo