Life is a journey not a destination.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before. Its one of those phrases that we believe to be true, but can’t actually make sense of. The meaning of this aphorism finally kicked in as I was reflecting on something my counselor said about clarity taking its time.
I was trying to unpack what love is and how I experience it. Do I feel a different love for my wife than I do for my family? Do I love my adoptive mom the same way I love my biological mom? Is romantic love different than platonic love? Even a question as simple as what is love, gives me pause. I don’t know if everyone struggles with these questions, but I’m certain my tumultuous childhood did me no favors when it comes to understanding them.
A child’s connection to their parents heavily influences how they process and connect with the rest of the world. Unfortunately for me, that emotional development was repeatedly interrupted by abuse and neglect. As a result, I’m still doing the messy work of deconstructing my emotional foundation twenty years later.
I want answers to these questions and I want them now. How can I be a good husband, friend or son if I don’t know how I understand or experience something as basic as love? Some days it feels as though my entire web of relationships hangs in the balance as I wait for the right epiphany.
Though clarity can’t be rushed, I try doggedly to speed it up. I want simple answers and I want them quickly. Every fiber in my being craves the comfort that certainty brings, and the longer I go without it, the more unsettled I feel.
If clarity evades me long enough, the internal tension lingers and I become convinced I’m doing something wrong. Its as if the discomfort is an indication of trouble rather than a reminder that I’m on the right path.
When I become focused on resolving the tension, I miss what I’m actually supposed to be learning. I miss the journey that takes place between the question and its answer(s) because it is difficult, uncomfortable and a bit nonsensical. In some ways, its not that different than the journey of pregnancy. (Its been on my mind a lot lol).
For 40 weeks a woman’s body is changing in ways that are also difficult, uncomfortable and a bit nonsensical. (I’m certain only pregnancy and marijuana make one perpetually crave frosted flakes and pizza puffs). She takes the stretching, cravings and discomfort in stride and soon begins to marvel at the miracle taking place within her. She learns that her body is capable of so much more than she ever imagined and thus so is she. All of this learning and growth happens before the baby is even born. Pregnancy is the time between the question “what is happening” and the audible cries of new life that are its answer.*
The same is true for us. The time between our questions and answers is both challenging and wondrous if we’re willing to embrace the journey and forgo our demands for comfort. Sometimes it feels like my world is crumbling while I wait on clarity, but the truth is, though I don’t fully understand love, I know I still experience it.
Brooke and I have been through some trying times over the last decade, but somehow we always come out of it having grown as individuals and as a couple. Why? Love. Not the mushy-gooshy love you see in the Notebook (I hate that movie). Its more like the love you see in P.S. I love you. It’s messy, painful at times and hella persistent. It’s a love birthed by the tension and discomfort of the journey.
While I still wish clarity would come a little sooner, I also recognize that I’ve come this far because of the discomfort the journey produces, not in spite of it. Life is a journey and our travel guide is clarity. She cannot be rushed and is always on time.