I am a hopeless romantic. I have authored poems of affection. I have authored poems upon toilet paper proclaiming devotion. I once translated a chapter in Song of Songs and wove it in to a declaration of love for my wife.
I am a sucker for those cheesy British lovey films staring Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, or Rachel Weisz. I love that they are somewhat complex with the safety and security of being solved in the matter of ninety or so minutes. They scratched my romantic needs in digestible little bits.
As long as I can remember I have been a romantic. In sixth-grade I wrote the most epic of love poems to one, Cindy Bischoff. It was safe. I was about to graduate the small private Lutheran school we attended and I would head out to the mystic waters of public school.
She never got it. I was over come with fear and hid the love poem inside my pillowcase. I went to class confident that my secret love for this burgeoning teen beauty was safe with me.
I arrived home that afternoon with confidence and sadness that I had not offered my heart openly to her. I was pleased thought that I did not get rejected. Then I encountered two smiling wolves, my brothers.
They had been instructed to clean our room. This included laundering the sheets. WHAT?! They discovered the letter. They had shared it with my grandmother, my father, and all of the clan. Everyone knew I loved Cindy, except Cindy. I was crushed.
I was the romantic Charlie Brown. I had crush after crush, broken heart after broken heart. I pined over loving another and the idea of being in love. I was am a wet hot mess.
Then I meet her, the church. The church was that stranger with whom I spent hours in conversation stranded at the Birmingham airport in the midst of a thunderstorm. The church was the person I went on a date with. I had a marvelous time. We both desperately interacted with each other and cautiously kept our distance. We were afraid to be hurt.
The church was that simple smile. That sweet caress. The innocence of thought. The hopeful prospect. The new beginning. The church was the one I stayed up all night with on the phone, running up my parents phone bill, just so I could spend more time together.
The church was there that night spent in a misty rain overlooking the city. The droplets falling from her hair. I tried to end the date but magic was there. We talked so long that her face changed, from one phase to the next. It became familiar, comfortable, and safe. We connected on a spiritual level. Where there any words to describe this?
I fell hard. Deeply, madly in love with the church. I spent every waking minute I could with her. I hurried through work or school so that I could be near her. I alienated friends and family so that I might maintain that tricky momentum. It was beautiful, terrifying and it was awe-inspiring.
I carried on this love affair for many years. I have strayed here or there on occasion. I always came back. Well, I really never left. I might have not come around as often, or hung out with another. I never stopped thinking about her.
I went to school to hang out with her more. I devoted my life to her. I centered my mind, my heart, and my will on her. I was excited, afraid, nervous, happy, and most of all grateful. I had a reliable partner in all of this. Someone that loved me as much I loved them.
It hurt to love her. I spent countless nights on my knees begging God to take this away. I prayed that my heart depart from these feelings, this love. I prayed, wept, and bargained with God to sweep them away from me. I claimed the victories, I claimed the peace in the name of Jesus. I fought the devil, the demons, and the darkness as I proclaimed the light I would be for God.
In spite of her rejection I loved her more. When she stopped returning my calls I decided to love her more, to show her my love was loyal and not contingent upon her returning love. I stalked her in a spiritual scene. I hung out where she would go and made friends with her friends. I put myself in the possible situation to “run in to her.”
My heart is still broken. I am still a romantic. I still love her, the church. I am disappointed that things did not work out differently. I still think she is amazing. She has a caring heart full of love to give. She is generous in spirit and willing to help those that need it.
I am learning that just because she does not love me how I want her to love me does not mean she does not love me. She loves me the best that she can. She loves me in her way. She will not be what or who I hope her to be. This does not make her bad. This does not make her wrong. It does not mend my broken heart.
I am a romantic. I hope I will always be a romantic. I hope I enjoy those cheesy English holiday romance movies twenty years from now. I hope I learn to love myself with the same passion as I love the church. I pray that I might chase justice, peace, and compassion with the same romantic passion that I have chased the church. When that stops it is time to go home.