Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Facing Fears: Is Love Really Worth the Pain?

This is something I have been reflecting on a lot lately.

In the middle of August, I had the chance to visit my best friends one last time before they left for their mission in England. It was lovely. Soccer and walks and chocolate. Videos, 3 am talks, a concert, and ice cream. Not getting lost, just not finding our way. Rounding the traffic circle seven times before getting off on the right road. Talking in our sleep and laughing at each other. Sitting in silence and feeling comfortable because we've known one another for six years and we've been through just about everything together. Saying, "Well, I don't know about you, but you're pretty much my best friend." And the other rolling their eyes and responding, "Well, duh, you're my best friend, too." I had such a wonderful time, such a perfect balance of deep conversations mixed with silly nothings, that when I left, I left depressed. There was an overwhelming feeling of the people I was closest to outside of my family being separated from me across the ocean and the burning question in the back of my mind, "Will it ever be the same?" We're all growing up, finding our paths in life. What if the next time we see each other one of us or both of us have a boyfriend? What if we somehow grow apart? When will we even see each other next? Why do we never seem to get enough time with the person who understands us the best?

I've never regretted knowing and loving the people that I am closest to in my life. I've never wished I hadn't gotten to know someone as well as I have, or that we hadn't been so close. But after I got back from my visit, when I thought about the new relationships that I could be cultivating here in my new home, I had to ask myself, "Do I want the pain that's going to come with this later? Should I just leave things as they are and not try to make actual friends with people here, but just keep things casual? Should I love now and be hurt later, or be lonely now and it won't matter later? Is love worth the pain? I know I would think so if I really did come to love this person. But right now, while I have the chance to save us both the heartache, should I prevent it?"

It's tough to be always moving. I don't know how attached to get to one place. It may seem like we'll be there for a long time - that this will finally be the last place we'll move to for a few years, if not that we've finally found somewhere to settle permanently; but the reality is, it's probably not going to turn out that way, no matter how it may seem now. My family hasn't lived in one place for longer than a year since 2010. But the thing is, I've enjoyed pretty much every place we've lived since then, and I know that if I move somewhere else, I'll most likely enjoy it there, too. So the hard part is moving and leaving behind the ones you love in that place and not knowing if or when you will ever get the chance to see them again, but also knowing that if you stay where you are, you could be missing out on falling in love with more people and places, too.

It's also sometimes hard being an introvert. I think it takes us longer to get to know people and to open up ourselves, and I feel like a lot of the time when I am just starting to feel comfortable around people, that's when we leave.

After the trip, I wrote this in my journal, "Do I really want to live here for years? Is staying in one place for years and years something I'm capable of? I don't want to always be moving, but since I always am, it's hard to picture me not. And I wonder if I would be able to stand it.... I guess I'm feeling lonely right now. I mean, where do I really belong? I've never wished that I hadn't met any of my friends, but at the same time, it just makes everything so much more difficult. I want to make friends here, but which will be worse: the pain of having no one to talk to, or the ache when I have to leave? I want to live here for a long time, but I don't. I want to get to know people more closely, but if I don't stay, it will make it harder to leave. Or what if they leave? Ever since I can remember, I'm the one who has moved away. I've moved on and left them, and met new people and been to new places, and I miss the people I've left behind, but at least I have a distraction. They have to stay where they are and go on with their lives without me, and I don't know if I could stand to switch places because I'm sure people handle it better than I would.... I guess that's what I want to know. Is it better to not have as much love, and therefore not have as much hurt? Or does the love always outweigh the pain?"

I was really praying that God would speak to me. There are times that I want to hear clearly God's voice more than anything, and that was one of those days. I didn't get an answer when I opened the Bible, and I went about the day in a deep sadness. At work, during my lunch break, I was surprised to see that Mia was online at the same time I was, and we were able to talk until I had to go back to work. She asked me how I was, and I almost just replied with the typical, "Fine, how are you?" But I caught myself and decided to tell her what I was really feeling. Sometimes it feels weird saying things like that over the internet and not in person, but as she was already in England, that would not be happening soon.

So I asked her, "Should I make friends now and be sad later when I leave, or be lonely now and it won't matter later?" I didn't use the word "pain" at all.

When she wrote back, she said, "Don't be lonely now. That's my advice. I feel like the pain is worth it." 

Her choice of words answered exactly what I had asked for earlier in prayer, "Does love always outweigh the pain?" There was such an inexplicable feeling of comfort that came with having received an answer to my fear from God and my best friend at the same time.

A few days later, I wrote in my journal, "I've come to realize that with life there comes pain, no matter how you choose to live it. I would be hurt if no one loved me. If I was deliberately abused, I would of course be hurt, too. And if I love someone and they love me and we never see each other again, we will hurt then, the same. But if I choose the latter, at least I'll have some happiness, too. I'll have the joy of memories. I'll always look back and be glad I knew them instead of the nagging feeling in the back of my mind saying, 'What if I had?'

"Life, love, and pain go hand in hand, no matter how you choose to look at it. Therefore, the choice that stands is not, 'if' we should love, but 'how' we should give and receive it."

We all have these fears at some time or another, don't we? You obviously know now that I do. Have you ever felt this way? The funny thing is, if we all thought this way and then chose to not love so as not to be hurt, how would life go on? We would all be so afraid to step out and go to new places and meet new people because of the possibly of getting hurt later that we would miss out on so much.

So go ahead and make that step. Get to know that person better who you were afraid to become close to. We shouldn't become too attached to anyone or anything because it wouldn't be good for us to be completely crushed if something were to happen, but that 'maybe' shouldn't prevent us from creating good, strong relationships now.

I want to hear your thoughts on this subject. I want these topics to be things we can share with each other. Little heart to heart conversations. It's good to know that people have the same feelings; that you're not the only one who feels a certain way. Not that you're glad someone else is going through the same ugly situation, but that since they are, you're glad they didn't just keep it to themself and think that they were the only ones with that problem. I want Facing Fears to become a regular post topic, and hopefully will post one once a month. What do you guys think?

And to end, I wanted to share a poem I wrote before leaving my family in Montana. I haven't shared some of my writing in forever, so here's a bit for you. Thank you for being patient with me, and for all of your wonderful comments on my last post. You don't know how warm it made me feel inside. You all are wonderful.

(I had titled it Fears Forgotten, but I'm not sure if I think it fits the best, now. Oh, well.)

It's good to know
You will be missed;
To know your loneliness is 
Worth something.
Nice to have the words taken
Right out of your mouth:
"Call me."
"Write me."
"Keep in touch."
"Tell me everything."
"I'll see you soon, won't I?"
Easier to breathe once your fears are taken away.
Honey, you're friends.
Stop worrying.

Peace, everyone. Until next time.

- Maddie


  1. Oh Maddie...
    I almost started crying, just reading this post. I have been really struggling, like REALLY with those same questions. Thank you so much for sharing and writing a brilliant post, as always.

    1. Esther, I know it's hard. I actually talked to my spiritual director all about it on Wednesday and ended up crying so hard, I couldn't even talk. I had to take a break and call him back. It was weird because I had thought I was over it after writing this post. I don't know if it's the same for you, but I think a lot of times I don't realize that whatever I felt a week ago I could still be feeling now. I mean, I think once I get my thoughts all straightened out, it's easy to say, "Okay, so now I know how I feel and I should be good." But that's not always the best thing to do. I'm realizing now that we shouldn't always try to convince ourselves to get over things so we can be happy again. If you try to rush it, it's not going to happen. I mean, don't wallow in self pity, but don't try to tell yourself you're fine when you're not. Things that you've pushed aside are just going to come back at you later unless you give yourself time to work through them. Thank you so much for reading, and it's good to know when others are going through the same thing, even though I wish you weren't. Hugs and prayers.

  2. Wow, Maddie. You probably know best how much I have to say on this subject but I'll try to condense it.
    First of all: yes, your visit was pretty much perfection. I am so glad you were able to visit us before we left.

    Thank you for telling me how you were actually doing (but I believe that I wrote 'don't be lint'πŸ˜‰).
    These have been my thoughts so much these past couple months. I have been reminded so many times lately just how painful it is to leave someone and not only that but having to deal with not knowing when (and sometimes if) I'll see them again.
    I have never regretted getting close to anyone or loving anyone either and I know that my life would be pretty grey without each one of the people I love but still the thought of this pain makes me not want to even meet anyone again. It's funny isn't it? How we avoid the very thing that brings so much colour and joy, the very thing that has brought growth and comfort and has challenged me in ways I desperately need, is the very thing I so often avoid.
    Any ways, I have a lot more to say but no time say itπŸ™
    So yeah, great post 😎

    1. Mia! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to reply!:(
      The way that you described the feeling is exactly right. It is funny. Humans are such funny creatures [I actually thought of that word before I realized the reference ;)]. I'm so glad that we've been able to talk pretty regularly since you've been in England. I was so worried that we'd not have time to talk for a few months or something. Anyway, thank you for everything you said here, and I want to hear the rest of it next time we talk :)


Go ahead, I'm listening (but before you ask, no, you cannot have my case of Wonka Bars).