I couldn’t believe that I had to schedule time with my brother. I didn’t understand and frankly, it made me pretty stinkin’ angry with him. Freshman year of high school just started – aka the gateway to insecurity – and now my best friend wasn’t there to make mac & cheese at midnight or sneak a grin at the dinner table or rock out to Anberlin – “Hey brother, do you remember when…?” – on the way to youth group with me.
It was tough not having him around but what made it worse was that he seemed fine not hanging out with me. I thought he didn’t want me anymore. That’s what hurt.
To be clear that wasn’t the case at all. He was just busy eating habanero peppers and throwing up milk. Ya know, the normalcies of adjusting to dorm life.Today I know that he cares about me and we’re tighter than ever but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes we are unwanted. And as relational souls being unwanted is one of the most painful realities to sink into our feeble hearts.
Cue the high school memories. Looking back at those odd years I often find a plethora of warm and nostalgic pictures, but searching deeper I feel one of the coldest and most painful seasons of my life. Of course it involved a broken heart over a girl. My world froze over. Children had fun ice skating though, so that’s a plus I guess? As always warmth slowly triumphed and new life grew, but the cool water running under the bedrock of it all still quietly trickles. It’s less dramatic but sometimes when I’m by myself too long or alone in a room full of strangers or it looks like everyone else is walking two-by-two, the icy water seeps into my consciousness. Am I wanted?
Sometimes I sit in the little puddle, letting droplets plunk on my tender soul like Chinese water torture. It never helps. It’s just easy not to care when no one else seems to either. And as the puddle grows into a small pool my perception gets distorted. I don’t think clearly. The cold has a sorry way of shutting down whatever it surrounds: my hope, my joy, my self-esteem.
If you feel the cool trickling too, if your heart is neck-deep in isolation, be purposeful about warming it up. Turn that pool into a hot tub and invite those you want. Make sure the people you care about know they are loved; write a letter, make a call, give ’em a hug. It will be hard; loving out of a lack of love is never easy. We so desperately hold onto any little bit of warmth we have. But giving love has a funny way of sending some back. Maybe we give hugs to get a little warmth ourselves?
Be purposeful about warming your own soul and warm someone else’s in the process. Win-win. It’s almost like we were made to love. Ha! Wouldn’t that be crazy?