Love Is Not Enough: Faith and Relationships
Easter marks not just a monumental moment in our religious faith, but for me, a continual reminder that I am allowed to have a religion. I've shared it before, but I still struggle with the endless questions regarding God, and Christianity. I've come to understand the profound meaning of this is not just about loving God and Jesus but understanding Him and the religion. Understanding that Jesus did walk this earth and God did sacrifice his only Son. This role of understanding plays out in more ways than just our relationship with our God (whoever that is for you) but our relationship with each other.
The following is an excerpt from my book, "Confessions of The Color Blue" regarding understanding and love.
I needed to keep my head held high. But tonight I lowered it. I don’t usually pray to God; religion was new to me, the idea of faith felt foreign. Despite all the mentioning of God, it felt like in this level of my life I was meant to learn to walk alone. Maybe I needed to stop questioning if there was a God, and more if God was walking with me right then.
I was on my knees, looking at a floor I rented but did not own, the scratches representing previous residents, the spotting of white paint were remnants of the tens and twenties of layers applied over the years with the passing of the renter keys. I sat in between two worlds, clutching onto one I may not belong in: the city, a place that allowed me to hide in its walls but not completely feel at home, my actual home with my family.
It was quiet except for the sound of the rain pinging on my air conditioner. The curtains were half hung open, showing speckles of water on the glass. Living in an apartment building sometimes made my heart heavy; I missed hearing the rain on the roof, in my sleep, on my skin.
“Am I in the right place at the wrong time?” Tears washed down my face; I had taken so many hits that week. I couldn't even recall what precisely happened, but a friend walked out, and I envied that their life appeared unaltered by my removal. They walked away because they didn’t believe in the validity of my mental problems. The remainder of that week was punched on a worn bag from all other aspects of mundane daily life. That’s the funny thing about memory. In retrospect, the things that seemed so extraordinary and life-altering washed away with the water so quickly.
They weren’t the first person to walk away with the reason being my mental health. I started to question my capability of handling decisions. The words, in their variations, expressing mental health were recorded so often on these pages I’d come to understand how often it slept in my bed.
The right place at the wrong time. I could feel the pulse of my potential, but as if it was buried under layers of other problems. I cleared my throat. “I don’t know how to do this; tell me how to do this,” I whispered — no response, no relief. Nothing. Am I nothing?
Great. I’m talking to the air.
A few minutes later I became warm, which turned to a boil. I started to sweat and felt like I couldn’t breathe. The heater in my room was off, and I was fashioning just a tank top and athletic joggers; I didn’t understand the sudden heat wave. I took that as a sign and grabbed my sneakers and keys before I could second guess my decision. I ran outside and remembered — I don’t run. These lungs are not a fan of cardio.
But I ran anyway, getting thoroughly drenched. I felt as if I had to exhaust myself. I pushed back my hair that was dripping against my forest green tank. I looked around, everyone frantically walking in the rain; some more prepared than others for the forecast.
I repeated my thought; it stuck on repeat. “Some more prepared than others…” I exhaled
I motioned to turn around, thinking that I was probably in need of a hot shower and a self-esteem check, but I felt as if my shoes were glued to the sidewalk. Everyone is at different levels of their lives…a different form of preparation. It’s not about who can handle what, but when and if you decide to. Perhaps this was not just about my mental health, but the ability, or preparation of my friend who chose to handle it a certain way. Now it was my turn to see how to handle this. I looked at the crossing streets and empty taxis.
Suddenly, I spun around at the sound of a raspy voice, “Love is not enough, sweetheart. The sooner you learn that the sooner you’ll know what love is.” The voice was coming from across the street. His skin tired. He wasn’t speaking to me; he was talking to someone it appeared he knew — a girl around my age. The looked like they could be related but both in different positions in life. He sat pressed against a building on fifty-first street, mismatched blankets and ripped cardboard surrounded him. They both pushed against the building under an awning to avoid getting wet.
I stood on the edge of the curb waiting to cross the street, observing them as I was in earshot of the conversation. I usually had in earbuds and missed this sort of thing. The girl leaned against the building with him, giving him a few items that she seemed to have prepared. She stared across the street nodding in silence in my direction. I was utterly struck, drenched, and unmoving. I turned around, my shoes almost slipping on the edge and walked away from my apartment’s direction, needing to think about that statement a little while longer.
Everyone is at different levels of being prepared…and love is not enough.
It’s a bold statement to think that love is not enough. It contradicts perhaps what we’ve been told, or have read about. But on one late summer evening, the homeless man had changed my mind altogether, and ever since I’ve been extremely grateful for our indirect interaction. At first, my mind took that statement in all the wrong ways. I thought how he must’ve been left, betrayed, cheated on, and that love was an untrusting source. But the conversation kept reappearing in my head. When that happens, a state of redundancy, I like to think that it’s the universes way of saying, “Try to think a little harder.” So I did.
A few days later I sat in a park near my apartment (not drenched). The only thing in view was the East River, it was a beautiful day, but my soul and body felt heavy. I couldn’t focus on any work that had to be achieved that day. The statement was weighing on my mind as I tried to think past all the more-logical assumptions I was making. So then I groaned to myself and thought, “What is the reason all my relationships, romantic, platonic, and with myself, have failed?” The answer was profoundly simple; we failed to understand each other. I was unable to understand myself.
Maybe love was the heart in the body but not the blood that made it beat. Perhaps that was understanding. I thought about it more, and I got chills. It made sense. We truly love someone when we take the time to connect and understand them. When we let ourselves be vulnerable and be consumed with empathy. I knew many divorced families or friends who sadly had a weaker bond with their significant others; the word, “understand” always seemed to pop up in one way or another. We’re all at different levels of being prepared to understand. Sometimes in those gaps in between, envy grows like moss on the side of a building.
Written by Sarah McKinnon. 2019.