People will surprise you, if you let them. People will love you, if you let them.
The last three years of my life could probably be summed up in those two sentences. I tend to be pessimistic, unfortunately, and the world can be quickly be stripped of color and joy after one terrible incident. My most sacred places were wounded before I was old enough to understand how sacred those places were, and since then, my mantra has been that people are unsafe. The world is unsafe. You have to constantly watch your back because it’s the ones you think you can trust that’ll hurt you the most. Fortress built, sword in hand, queen of my lonely land.
But every now and then, someone sees past the defenses and sees the innocent, silly, lovely little girl hiding behind the walls and chooses to love her. And a large section of that insurmountable wall is torn down. And then it happens again with someone else. And another and another and another. All that’s left now is a rather flimsy barrier in comparison to the enormous fortress that once stood before.
I’m amazed at how many men and women have proven me wrong, and have shown me that there is good to be experienced even when you least expect it. I constantly catch myself being surprised that she remembered and texted, or that they drove down to hang out just for a few hours, or that he sent a postcard just because. I didn’t realize that I expect people to forget me when I (or they) leave, until I left and I wasn’t forgotten. I didn’t realize how terribly I ached to be cared for until I was repeatedly cared for in the simplest, yet incredibly profound ways.
I’ve never regretted anything that I’ve chosen to do thus far in my life. Acknowledging that there might have been better choices is one thing, but I can recognize that I need to chart my own path, make my own mistakes, fill the chronicle of my days with humorous mishaps. I’m okay with that. So, to me, it is monumental that this is the first thing I’ve ever regretted. I regret how much time and energy I’ve put into self-preservation, fortifying walls and hiding from life. I regret not realizing sooner that the more pain you shut out, the more joy you shut out, too. I regret not giving myself a thousand more chances to be surprised by care, and love, and hope, and joy.
Because the thing I’ve learned is this: people will love me, but only if I let them. I’m learning to let them. And I’m thanking God everyday for those dear friends who surprise me constantly. What sweet treasures they are to me.