Each morning, a small white tag dangles from a cotton string leading back to the tea bag gently dancing in my mug. And written on each tag is a phrase from which to launch my day. Wisdom, inspiration and soul-stirring caffeine in one tidy package.
Today’s message resurrected painful memories of someone I don’t care for — a person I left behind years ago. Specifically, an earlier version of me.
“Love is to live for somebody, love is not to live with somebody.”
The tea bag’s words kept dragging me back to a time for which I am ashamed, but accepting of a journey that needed to happen.
I’ll admit I was a bit of a mess coming into adulthood. A recipe laced with selfishness, materialism and overly judgmental was a bad road for me and those around me.
Maturity, by practice, is learning to leave your adolescent tendencies behind and embrace the values of serving others. And nowhere is that formula more important than with love.
Imagine a traditional shooter’s target with a bulls-eye in the center. As an adolescent, we identify ourselves as the bulls-eye with the world circling around. Things we say, do, and think are crafted to serve the needs of the center — or in this case, us.
One day, if we are lucky, we realize it is lonely in the center.
I may not be alone in having to grow through this stunted stage, but in life, you must hold tightly your failures as you do your successes. From your failures, you learn humility and a greater appreciation for the world around you. Inside are lessons you will never learn anywhere but on the playing field of life.
For whatever stage I am at now, I can promise you I did not start out here. Ask my wife. And God as my witness, she deserves the nod for reshaping this mess of malformed clay into something worth keeping around.
Love is a painful journey. And to travel the road successfully requires two people facing each other, not standing side by side. Only by looking into the eyes of the other will your hearts ever meld together.
This is where you cross over from living for someone versus living with someone. Marriage is a man-made business agreement in one sense; love is a human bond, full of powerful mystery and emotion. If you are lucky in life, you find yourself blessed with both.
I read once if you are happy in your relationship you carry a haunting feeling as if not enough time remains. Conversely, if you are unhappy or unconnected, time hangs like a heavy blanket of daily dread.
Recognizing that the bulls-eye is where everyone else should reside is life-changing. The moment you see your earlier mistakes and commit to change, you effectively must start your life over one day at a time, relearning what is important, retraining your instincts.
The road is hard, bumpy and bone-jarring, but I highly recommend the journey.