It's Valentine's Day . . . ❤️ and it seems like a good time to talk about love, right? This day can be fun, romantic, disappointing, sad, frustrating, over-inflated, etc – truly it can be all of these at any point in life.
At age 8, I probably was excited to receive a cute valentine card from a friend or cute boy. If I had heard Tina Turner's hit song, "What's Love Got to Do with It" on the radio that year I would not have understood it. But here and now, this "fun song" causes me to pause and analyze all the lyrics related to love, loving someone, and navigating true love, loss and grief.
At root, this song is about having an attraction and trying to understand the feelings and emotions, the fears and doubts, and of course, wondering, "Is this love?" It's easy to over-analyze the words to any song - especially when you enter conversations about what it means to love someone truly. Pop songs are not always a good guide - ha :)
Experiencing true love has changed my life. More specifically, loving God has brought peace and hope to my soul in an incredible way. Loving my family and friends has rooted me. Loving my late spouse has brought both incredible joy and great heartache –– heartache that is and was worth it. Through the pain, this love has not disappeared, it is rooted deep within me in such a way that it makes it hard to navigate what it means to love someone else.
So when someone innocently asks me, “Do you love this other person?” I can answer, "Yes" but also I know that it feels and looks different. While it seems like it should be simple to "love again," it is not always cut and dry. Of course, there are fuzzy feelings, that some might call chemistry, but these can easily fade in the moments. Love is (and always has been) about more than feeling good. It is about trust, commitment, selflessness and sacrifice; it is delicate and can be risky - especially after being hit by a grief truck.
Losing someone you love deeply leads to heartache. . . there's no escaping it. And it is hard to continue after this detour. As I navigated my own grief journey, I’ve talked with many friends along the way. I’ve talked about why I decided to “get back out there” - because ultimately I still have love in my heart to share. This looks different for people grieving, because each story and love story is unique.
I’ve talked with widows, widowers and friends who were in committed relationships who approach, “what’s next” in different ways. Some people have a strong desire to marry or be in a relationship again, some believe they had their time of great love and intend to remain single and focus on trusting God as a single person for the rest of their time on earth. Some people don't even know where they land right now - and that's ok too. It really is a journey for each person to walk in.
So . . . what’s love got to do with it? It’s got everything to do with it. If we have loved greatly and lost that person, our hearts have been broken. Working with anything that has been broken, and even healed then repaired, comes with challenges. The broken piece might not ever look or feel quite the same.
Of course, God is in the business of healing the broken parts of our lives - including messy hearts broken in grief. This is a beautiful thing to consider. It also is a spark of hope when considering loving and trusting again - whatever that looks like. Yes, it all takes time and often it means taking a risk with your heart.
Tina Turner's song continues with these words that represent how we might feel after loss, "I've been thinking about my own protection. It scares me to feel this way." Here and now I can say, "Yep - that's true." As a widow I do fear I might experience another heartbreak or loss. But at the same time, God has carried me through and there is space to love and care again. And, it could just be worth the risk.
"Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?"
We all do.
Happy Valentine's Day Friends . . .
wherever you are and however you are feeling today, know you are loved. ❤️
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.