Love. A tiny word with so many variations. Romantically, often confused with infatuation. In a family, often taken for granted. In friendship, sometimes forgotten over the years. Does love in any of its shapes or sizes ever truly die? Or, once planted, is it a seed that never exhausts its generative power?
I’d be less than honest if I said this was a purely theoretical post. I feel firmly planted in the no column for the first question and the yes column for the second. Today, I revel in the fact that the love I feel for a friend is as true, strong, and full of acceptance and forgiveness as I always hoped it would be.
There’s not a person on this planet that doesn’t struggle with something. For some people it’s drugs and alcohol, for others depression and emotions, still others fight disease, apathy, and even their own selfish nature. Watching a person you love struggle can be so painful that at some point you may choose to turn away, hitting that hard to accept realization that the only love that can help your friend is the love that they need to feel for themselves. In loving, knowing the limits of your own personal power is both liberating and devastating.
I’ve been in that place of tension with one friend for almost ten years. Unable to be present because of the self-destructive choices I could not influence, control, or change. I gave up a physical presence in their life, but held onto the seed of love in my heart. I prayed for their recovery, I sent small messages of love and encouragement usually around birthdays, I cried many times hoping against hope that they might feel a small fraction of the love I had for them, for their self.
And then, it happened. I started noticing small changes. Little things that gave me hope. I tested the waters, looking for old clues and praying that I wouldn’t find any, knowing that I needed to respect the fact that my lack of physical presence in the past years may have impacted how much they wanted to share with me. Knowing that though my love never went away, it may not seem that way in the light of their new world.
Yesterday, I was able to stand next to my friend and know that they were in a good place. Finally I was able to set free the love that had prayed, hoped, and mourned for this person. I was able to see the beginnings of confidence and self loving that I couldn’t find for them, but could only be found through their own journey and struggle.
In giving those hello and goodbye hugs, I was overwhelmed by the unalterable and eternal qualities that all variations of real love share. My love and friendship for this person exists now, just as strongly as when I first felt it. It is a gift and seed God planted in my heart when I was twelve years-old and though it’s grown and changed over 27 years, it’s survived. And I believe it always will. Love to you, Friend. Always.