Letters to Lucy: The Four Loves

Dear Lucy,

Have I ever told you how I met your dad?

You’re barely two. No, I haven’t. And you definitely don’t care right now. But you might one day and then I’ll be glad to tell you the story. 

This letter also falls into the category of "Things Lucy Doesn't Understand Yet" but while the story of How I Met Your Father will likely only interest you (once you're old enough), I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope this letter would encourage others. Because I do. That's the thing about sharing our experiences, Lucy. It helps to know we aren't alone.

So...first thing’s first: Love is a strange. Fickle. Falling is easy. Staying can be hard. 

I’ve had four true loves in my life. Five, if you count the boy I first said those words to when I was twelve (I don't). And I’ll give them to you by category because that’s going to make this love nonsense a bit easier to understand. This is not a comprehensive list, okay? It’s just a sample of the potential relationship population, so don’t get too attached to it. I’m only trying to help you navigate your future love life by giving you a few of the most handy road signs.

Alright. Let’s do this.

The Bad Boy

Oh, this guy. We all have one. You’ll have one, but I pray he’ll just be the fast-car driving type and not the controlling, emotionally insecure type. My first love was both.

Now that I’m an adult and not a fifteen-year old girl, I can more deeply comprehend the complex emotional gunk that makes us act a little crazy when we’re teenagers. We’re still growing up. We’re being humans for the first time (aren’t we all?). Give us a break! But back then every word, every fight, and every break-up was ten times more dramatic.

My Bad Boy, who I spent most of my high school years trying to keep happy and far away from anything offensive (i.e. other boys, any version of the Bible that wasn’t King James, progressive ideas) had a good heart. A really good one. Yes, he was one of those. The ones you see in movies that have a hidden sensitive side even when they treat you poorly. They exist. But don’t date them, please, if you can help yourself. That’s not to say there won’t be good moments with The Bad Boy, because there will be. There will be lots of them. And every good moment will have you thinking that it can always be that way. But it can’t. Not until he grows up and discovers his own value. Until that day, his insecurities will not bode well for your self-worth. More often than not, you’ll be left feeling like you’re trying to hold up the entire world. That’s a lot to handle when you’re fifteen. Or sixteen. Or seventeen. In fact, that’s too much to handle ever. It’s not your job to hold up anyone’s world. Not even your own. Someone else has already got it taken care of, okay?

So when you see him coming, in his pretty vintage car with his dark hair and blue eyes, just say no. He’s got a lot of growing up to do. And so do you

The Best Friend

The Best Friend is a doozy. He’s sweet and patient, encouraging and kind. Plus, he’s your best friend. What’s not to like? He’s going to be the one guy who remains constant, the one waiting in the wings when things get tough, the one who never gives up. 

Until he does.

In my experience, The Best Friend never really gets a chance. You always like each other, but you never actually say it. At least not when you should. You both date other people and, unfortunately, when one of you is single the other is taken. The stars just don’t align on this one.

One day, at exactly the wrong moment, you’ll admit how you feel about each other. You might even kiss. It will be wonderful and everything you hoped it would be. But your lives will move in different directions and you’ll fall in love with other people and it will hurt. It will feel like you held onto something that turned out to be nothing. Lucy, let me tell you right now how not true that is. You will never lose anything by loving someone. You only lose when you give what doesn’t belong to them, like your dignity, your body, or your self-worth. And, one day, when The Best Friend reaches for your hand and says, “We would have been great together. We were just never in the same place at the same time,” you may or may not want to punch him. 

But he’ll be right. And eventually you’ll be glad that he was.

The (Almost) One

Get your Ben & Jerry’s out for this one, sweet girl. You’re going to need it.

The (Almost) One is exactly what he sounds like: the guy who is everything you want and need in a healthy, loving relationship. Except not. 

It’s complicated, and here’s why:

You are older now, nearing your twenties, and you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. But life is still too black and and white for you to understand what compromise really means. You love him, and he loves you back, and that seems like it’s enough. For awhile anyway. But it isn’t. And when you discover this, it will feel like your entire world has been shattered.

The first year will be blissful. You’ll hear angels singing and both of you will look at each other with googly eyes and the words “forever” and “marriage” might even cross your mind. He will respect your differences until, suddenly, the things you believe leave him feeling crowded and undervalued. You will think he can do no wrong until, one day, he starts to pull away without telling you why. You will keep pushing long after you should have stopped, and then you’ll wonder why things are different. You’ve reached the beginning of the end. No one is really in the wrong here, although neither of you truly understand what role you’re playing in the relationship’s demise. You won’t get it until much, much later, when the relationship is over. But, if you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to make things right and walk away feeling thankful that you had the chance to love each other. 

He’ll always be The (Almost) One. And that’s okay. Because he is The One when it comes time to helping you discover what’s next.

The Husband

Listen, Lucy, because this is important. Are you ready? Okay. Here we go.

You don’t ever have to get married.

It’s true. People will tell you otherwise. The whole world will look like it’s coupling and you will feel out of place. But that’s just life. So I’m telling you now that marriage might not be in the cards for you and that’s one-hundred percent, entirely, completely okay. 

With that being said, I hope you do. I hope it’s part of God’s plan for your life (I don’t know if it is; you’ll have to take that up with Him). Marriage is the very best thing, next to being a mama, if you choose your partner wisely.

One of the smartest things your grandmother ever told me was when I was nineteen, sitting on the balcony outside my bedroom with my feet hanging over the edge, sobbing like a five-year old because The (Almost) One and I had just broken up. She looked up at me from the living room and said, with equal parts frustration and love, “One day, someone will come along who is everything he was and more.” Which, at the time, sounded like complete and utter nonsense. Who knew she would be right? 

(Answer: she did. Moms usually are. Just trust me on this.) 

Funnily enough, when The Husband showed up, I wasn’t even sure I liked him. But there was no denying that something had lit up inside of me, something I didn’t recognize yet. It would be awhile before I could see what it was. But when I did, man, it was like Christmas morning. And it still is, even when I want to yell and scream and throw things at him. After all, we haven’t stopped being human just because we got married.

The Husband should be someone who pursues you even after the wedding, who sees your value and treats it with care. He knows he isn’t God and he doesn’t try to be. But he does know that the most essential part of a relationship is a strong, shared foundation. He is someone who, at his core, believes what you do about God and grace and love. Who sees the world in a similar way and wants to add good things to it. Who doesn’t shy away from your imperfections or from letting you look at his. The Husband should be a man whose character isn’t altered by circumstance. A man who cares about what you need to feel loved and does what he can to meet those needs. 

And, last but not least, he should be someone you like. Someone who, when the years have passed and both of your incredible good looks have become gray hairs and wrinkles, you’ll still want to get frisky with. (You might think that's gross now, but just wait!)

Can you see yourself laughing and being silly together, even after twenty years? Can you picture him as a father, teaching your babies and holding them close? If not, say goodbye now. If so, he might be worth a shot. But don’t get caught up in searching for him, okay? Your life was not meant to be lived for someone else unless that Someone Else is named Jesus. 

So if I can leave you with any final words of wisdom about falling in love, they would be this: Love God and He will bring you what you need.

Every single time. 




Christy said...

So lovely! :) I didn't love that many people before meeting Scott (not REALLY anyway), but I think one guy was a few of those archetypes rolled into one! Great post! I hope you make a book of these letters for Lucy. She will LOVE these when she's older. I wish I had letters from my mom written when I was a baby. How cool would that be?? Lucy will! Lucky girl! :)

Wendi Nunnery said...

It's funny that you say that because a book of essays for Lucy is exactly what I'm working on right now! Haha! Good to know I'll have an audience ;).