I am sitting in a Starbucks as I write this (so stereotypical I could die), drinking a beverage I in no way enjoy. But we have an arrangement, Starbucks and I. I buy one of their fancy drinks, they let me plop on their wifi for two hours while I make weird faces at my computer screen as I try to write a post. Across the table from me is my editor: a sweet boy who eats really quickly who I also call my boyfriend. His warby parker glasses are sliding down his nose as he works and occasionally we make eye contact and smile at one another.
We are in a hard season together, my boy and I. God is teaching us to seek Him, and even though He is the most beautiful thing to ever bask in, for some reason this is a terribly hard lesson. In this moment, nothing is secure except God and each other. And that is kind of wonderful. This relationship, this man, and this season is entirely different from anything I have ever experienced. In hard ways and in beautiful ways.
I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’ve never been here before. In relationships, yes, but never in anything that resembled this pairing of Kathryn + Timothy. Everything prior was heavy and difficult and sad. Long threads of bad decisions with too much emphasis on people who didn’t and couldn’t love me like Christ. People that I didn’t and wouldn’t love like Christ, either. My track record is not pretty. I have had relationships that only existed because he and I both wanted someone to complete our individual dreams without being willing to sacrifice… anything. Without even really wanting our individual dreams to intertwine. Those relationships ended in yelling and hurt feelings and with me stomping down the front porch steps in the most dramatic exit I have ever made to this day.
To have this man sitting in front of me: this man who has endured my yelling and craziness and tears and who has decided to still sit across form me at Starbucks, is something that I have never experienced. This is all new territory. I know, now, how selfish my past relationships truly were only because of the way God has revealed Himself through Timothy. Because of the way he cares for me and for the ways that I long to care for him.
That’s the difference I’ve found: I know that I am selfish in our togetherness, and I detest it. I am no longer content with serving only myself. It’s my nature and always my gut reaction, but it has become the thing I hate about myself. Now, I long to love Timothy like God loves Timothy. I long to respect him and build him up and talk to him like I would talk to someone of infinite value – because he is of infinite value. It has become of the utmost importance for me to show him that I love him. I want to buy him treats at the grocery store and listen to the music that he writes and not complain when “The Walking Dead” is on. These things aren’t always easy to do – I really don’t like “The Walking Dead” – but my heart wants to be better and better at doing them because even though it’s hard, there is such joy.
This Christmas we traveled up to Memphis to see his family, the first time going back since our move to Tampa. My heart was a little heavy because I have never spent a holiday away from my precious family before. Every single Christmas morning I have ever had started with waking up in the home I grew up in. It began with eating warm cinnamon rolls, and ended with visits to friends who were as close as family – friends I’ve loved a very long time. Every Christmas I have ever had has been filled with comfort and longevity and familiarity.
This year all of that was being traded in for something completely different. A trade I had never been willing to make: no holiday, Christmas or otherwise, had been given to another person before. I am far too sentimental to surrender such things easily; to put down my traditions for someone else’s. I never had even the slightest desire to do so.
I packed my bag, bought presents for people I didn’t know well enough yet to buy good presents for, and walked hand in hand to Gate A30 with the most handsome and excited man in the Tampa airport. My soul so very much aware of all that I was about to miss.
As it turned out, seeing Timothy so wildly and obviously happy amounted to a lot more than missing my traditions. Suddenly I understood why people are able to make sacrifices for the ones they love: sometimes, they aren’t really sacrifices. Or, they are but they don’t possess the negative connotation we so often give to the word. They’re only good. My heart was content knowing that I wasn’t missing out on a single thing. Seeing Timothy play with his nephew, hearing the way his Tennessee accent twanged through when he talked with his dad: these moments sparkled more than all the christmas lights in the world.
I don’t know anything about relationships. My past will support this and the number of times I find I must apologize to Timothy also show it to be true. That two people with different interests and opinions and backgrounds decide to come together doesn’t make an ounce of sense. And yet in this weird world that I don’t understand, I am finding my heart more full than it’s ever been because I have the opportunity to love someone above myself. I don’t do this well, but the rare moments I sit back and let him be full are glimpses of God’s Kingdom around us. And they are the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. May we allow Christ to teach us how to love. May we be willing to put our ‘wants’ on a shelf and find that the giving really is sweeter than the getting.