Recently a friend of a friend called me “fake” for still working on—and struggling—with some of the subject matter of my blogs. For the record, I’m not perfect; never will be; don’t pretend to be; and I blog about the issues that I’m currently going through—with the simple hope that I connect with and help just one other person going through the same thing.
Having said all this, the reason for this personal attack was that I put in my two cents to a friend that I think is making poor, and potentially very damaging, life decisions. Which brought me around to the ultimate question: when you love someone do you sit back, close your mouth and “not judge;” or do you speak up and try to prevent your loved one from harm—while still trying to “not judge.”
If this blog intro seems convoluted, I think this subject matter is even more so. To be more blunt and to the point, here are five reasons why I think that love requires full participation—including some occasionally uncomfortable confrontations.
1. Love is patient—but people often aren’t. When someone you love is impulsive, it can be hard to tell which decisions are well thought out and which ones are just situations that were quickly jumped into. Asking your friend if she’s thought about certain aspects of her decision isn’t being judgmental—it’s a form of a safety check list. This doesn’t mean you should expect your friend to listen to your advice, but I personally would want someone to point out red flags that I could be missing.
2. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, but sometimes it’s necessary. I hold firm to the thought that sometimes not saying anything is not dishonesty—it’s kindness. However, in love, honesty is often healthy—and crucial—to a relationship’s success. Sometimes not saying something to someone you love builds walls and invisible fences—made up of all the unsaid things that fill the space between the two of you. While I don’t expect my friend to immediately agree with the concerns that I posed to her, I do feel that our discussions will keep our relationship strong—even when our lives take directions that the other doesn’t completely understand. To me, this is much better than having a “fake” wall of pleasantries. Which leads to…
3. Sometimes love is uncomfortable. I touched upon the subject of the health of discomfort in two of my past blogs. Let me say that generally I think love shouldn’t take a lot of work; in the sense that two people should get along and have deep life goals and views in common. Yet sometimes love is uncomfortable. In a truly wonderful relationship, two people—whether friends, lovers or siblings—can encourage each other to grow and be the best person that she can be. To grow personally, we often need to confront head on the reality of our downfalls and negative traits and behaviors. Let me tell you, such confrontations—and the actual self-evolution—can be terribly uncomfortable. I’m in no way suggesting that we repeatedly pick on the people we love—that’s called abuse. I am suggesting, however, that it sometimes takes an outsider’s perspective to be the best possible people that we can be.
4. Love always protects. What feels like protection to you might not feel like protection to me. You might totally disagree with my entire train of thought in this blog. Still, to me part of protection is keeping someone you love from hurting herself. The unfortunate reality of love and life is that we do have to watch the people we love get hurt—sometimes badly and in ways no one could have prevented. Yet if you saw warning signs that a friend could be headed down the wrong path, would you illuminate them or keep the signs in the shadows on the side of the road? I would want my friend to shine a flashlight on those suckers, even if I still didn’t see the same foreboding within them.
5. Love is letting go. I remember when I was in high school and my boyfriend (now husband) and I had temporarily broken up. My mom told me the old adage that if you hold sand too tightly in your hand it slips between your fingers, but if you hold it loosely, it stays. Friendships are sometimes like this. I can tell my friend a concern that I have—because I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t. Yet in the end, we are all individuals carving our own paths. While I truly believe that loving fully means being open and honest—most of the time at least—and that such honesty can sometimes be uncomfortable; and that we should try to protect those that we so strongly care about; I’m also aware that sometimes love is uncomfortable in that our only option is sitting back, watching—and letting go.
This blog was one that I never aspired to write—in part because it’s difficult, complicated, argumentative terrain. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like love in its more disagreeable moments. Much like I chose to sit down, try to tackle this agonizing subject matter in my blog—and risk doing a poor job—my entire point is quite similar. Do you think that love occasionally means putting yourself in uncharted, rough waters or would you simply turn the boat around and sail to smoother seas? I’m no adventurer, but sometimes love gives you the strength you need to weather, and wage, storms because, in the end, love should always do one thing—persevere.