Sentiments for the Sick & Single
If you’re anything like me, that heart of yours is wavering a bit more than normal lately. The shops are full of every shade of pink. There are hearts painted on every store window. Social media is overflowing with engagement announcements and wedding pictures and anniversary posts. “Love is in the air,” they say.
Maybe you’ve heard that small voice in your heart whispering “What about me?” That voice tells you to lie in bed awake for another night, wondering if you’ll ever find a love worth savoring. It’s the same voice that tells you you’re too much, you’re too broken, and you’re too sick. No one could ever possibly love you and all of your scattered pieces.
Do you want to know a secret?
You are not alone.
I hear that voice too.
I hear it when I open Instagram and see another cheesy love post. I hear it when I’m shopping with my friends and they pick a new outfit for their anniversary date. I hear it when I see a couple kissing on campus. I hear it as I relive the memories of my last catastrophic breakup. It’s a loud voice. It drowns out the cries of my own heart and the endless chatter of my inner thoughts. This voice demands to be heard and sometimes it overwhelms my very weary soul.
I know your pain, even if just in the slightest way. It’s a pain that’s deep and feels eternal. It’s unlike the pain of an aching joint or swelling limb, although it seems to be just as familiar.
I was thirteen years old when I was diagnosed with a disease that may last a lifetime. I was given the list of things that I can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t ever do again. I was prepared for the prognosis of a life filled with physical pain and endless medical treatments, but nobody warned me of the damage that would wreck the sacred spaces within my young and impressionable mind.
“You won’t be able to live on your own,” they said. “You may never fall in love. You may never have a family of your own.”
In that moment the doctors convinced me that my ability to be loved was dependent on the quality and capability of my physical body. I was led to believe that my very broken mess of flesh and bones was the sole determinant of my future relationships. It was as if the qualities of my heart and spirit meant nothing to anyone. Could my loyalty ever mean more to a man than my ability to physically grasp his hand? Could the attraction of my passion and empathy overshadow the detraction of my atrophying muscles and pale skin? Would anyone ever see past the medical devices, the service dog, and the treatment side effects? Is there even a man out there who is willing to stand by my side through it all? Could anyone truly vow to love me in sickness and in health? Is loneliness meant to be just another side effect of illness?
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Again I tell you that you are not alone. Not at all.
Friend, let me hold your hand for a second and tell you that I don’t know the answers to those questions. I don’t know what our hearts will one day conquer or what the future looks like. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you. I want you to have that hope just as much as I want it for myself. What I can tell you is that it’s okay. Whatever your heart feels today, tonight, tomorrow – that’s okay. We are fragile beings with delicate skin. Sometimes our souls become just as frail as our bodies. If you have been fed similar lies that you are incapable of being loved, please hear me when I say that those words are simply not true.
When the weight of your singleness becomes too much to carry, give yourself permission to put it down. Set it down amongst the piles of laundry, the lists of doctors to call, the bottles of medications to be refilled, the groceries to be put away.
Society seems to have this inexplicable desire to paint a picture of love that is completely unrealistic and unattainable. The movies make it look like romance is waiting to fall into your lap at any moment. Are we really meant to believe that love may catch our eye in the most mundane moments, like on the way to the mailbox or in line at the grocery store? Social media and tabloids make love look adventurous and desirable and all consuming. We’re raised to believe that adulthood means college, followed by marriage, and ending with a dreamy retirement with our soul mate. But what if we stepped back into reality and discovered that love doesn’t always look like a white dress and matching wedding bands? It doesn’t always feel like a hand to hold or a warm embrace.
I want to remind you today that love comes in so many forms and can be found in so many unexpected places. Look for it. Really look for it. Find it in the voicemail that your best friend left you a year ago. Discover it in the scent of the candle that your sister bought you for Christmas, or the cold dampness of your dog’s nose.
Most importantly, allow yourself to encounter love in its most forgotten form: The eternal love of Jesus that seems to find you no matter how deep you bury your heart under your own human flaws. You can find this love written on every page of the Bible. Its etched into every scar on your broken body. This is the kind of love that doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, status or health. It’s a love that you don’t have to choose, because He chose you first. Let that love consume you and carry you through the heartbreak. If you ask me, that’s the only way we’ll ever make it to the other side of this season of singleness.
I know that this journey is painful. I know that there are times you want to surrender and denounce love all together. Your fight for love and acceptance is not for nothing. Your spirit, even when broken, is beautiful and brave. The courage that you have within you is powerful and protective, even if you feel small and weak. That bravery comes from a God who promised to never let go of your hand, no matter how deep the waters get.
One thing I want you to carry with you is hope. As hard as it is, hold onto the hope that love is real and attainable and you have every right to experience it. Don’t give up on the prospects of relationship simply because you’re currently stuck in a season of singleness. You never know what’s up ahead, but I assure you that those new seasons and experiences will bring with them their own obstacles and questions. None of these things are too big for God. Despite the ever-changing circumstances around you, His love within you is unfailing and never-ending.
Has anyone told you today how deeply you are loved?
Allow me to do the honors:
Friend, you are far more loved than you will ever know. You are strong and brave and loved for who you are as an individual. The goodness within you is not tied to the actions or affections of any other person. Your heart was created to be known and cherished and cared for. Not a single part of you is meant to be defined by your age, your health, or your relationship status. There is nothing you could ever do to change that. Jesus says that you are fully loved from the first page until the very last. You may not feel it now, but that love is there. It always has been and it always will be. That’s one promise that I know will stand true for eternity.
You are so loved.
Plant the seeds of those words deep into your heart right now; cover them with the soil of gentleness, kindness, grace, and fearlessness. And let them grow into a hope that will continue to protect you and nurture you on this journey.
Next time you find yourself walking amongst a sea of pink hearts at the store, distracted by that small voice coming from within your broken and wavering heart, remind yourself that you are loved in more ways than one. As that voice attempts to convince you otherwise, gently whisper back the truth that you are known and loved for exactly who you are in this moment. You always have been, and you always will be.
Written by: Ally Zinsmeister
Ally is one of our beautiful twenty-something People Hope Tribe members residing in Texas. Through her own battle with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Ally keeps us all guessing what barrier she’ll overcome next, with the help of her service dog, Malibu, of course! She loves sprinkles, pillow forts, and 2nd Corinthians. If you need her, she’s probably in a coffee shop somewhere.
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