I turned 25 on Friday. The birthday and absence of the people I love made me sentimental. And, as is often the case, it made me bitter.
The sound of my mother crying on the phone as she tried to get the words “Happy Birthday” out keeps playing over and over again in my head. I’ve read the text my father sent me at least fifteen times in hopes that it would read differently. I lay in bed by myself and wish my girlfriend wasn’t a thousand miles away. I wish the distance wasn’t hard. I wish I was a stronger woman, partner, and leader. I wish I was more – more of a friend, more of a sister, more of a daughter. And I wish that love didn’t always find a way to hurt.
I feel sorry for myself. And a phrase that I’ve heard a lot lately comes to mind: Choose the people who choose you. It resonates with me and it makes me angry.
I’m angry with God for not answering my 15-year-old self as I laid on the bathroom floor and tearfully begged Him to make me straight. I’m angry with my parents for not accepting me for who I am. I’m angry with my siblings for not being more supportive. I’m angry with the girl who first broke my heart. I’m angry with the one who pieced it back together and then broke it in a different way. I’m angry with those who told me this was my cross to bear. I’m angry, I’m alone, and I’m tired of choosing people who don’t and won’t choose me.
So, like any good millennial, I tweet it.
But as I try to return to my pity party, my heart is pierced.
It’s pierced by the One who chooses me every day – even when I don’t choose Him. I feel crushed by the heaviness of my inadequacy and convicted of my inability to love the way He loves.
Choosing the people who choose you is easy. But making the conscious and daily decision to choose the people who don’t choose you – that’s love. It’s the love of a Savior – even though you’ve let Him down. It’s the love of a significant other – even when you’ve broken their heart. It’s the love of a family – even when they don’t understand. It’s the love that keeps choosing you, keeps choosing you, and keeps choosing you – even when you don’t deserve it.
Love is heartbreaking. The pain of betrayal and the loss of companionship are memories that can’t be forgotten and aches that can’t be ignored. But how we respond to that heartbreak may say just as much about us as it does those who broke our heart.
My heart has been broken and will break again. I have broken hearts and will break more. I pray I’m strong enough to choose those who don’t choose me. I hope they’re gracious enough to choose me when I don’t choose them. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to the end of the road and realize that I chose the people who chose me all along.