“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal….Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

My heart was well armored, plated in iron and steel. “No one will wound me again,” I vowed. My first love, who I thought the sun circled around, was choosing another. At the tender age of 13, I knew little else to do than protect myself. It took the form of looking past men, so I could see neither their disinterest nor their admiration. My ruler to measure men was harsh, exacting, and unkind. I was dismissive of interested parties and likely caused unknown wounds. My assumption was that men are callous and unfeeling, so I could be the same. I was a well-armored woman.

It was a lonely and ambivalent place. My heart longed for deep love and companionship. Chick flicks touched a place of tenderness and longing. To have a man hold me in his arms and want me felt like a fairy tale, yet who wants to live longing for fiction?  So, I hardened myself. I spent a long two decades of hoping and hardening.

Many of my dearest friends wed during this season. I stood by their side, witnessing vows of love, faithfulness, and hope. Yet, my own hope felt dangerous after countless dates failed. My strength and ambition seemed to overwhelm many men while my beauty and character seemed insufficient to captivate a man. I was too much and not enough all at the same time.

To cling to God’s faithfulness felt like the promise of a feast while hunger gnawed at my stomach.

Would celebration and satiation come? Would He show Himself and provide?

My friends were often faithful when I had lost hope. They continued to walk with me in all the questions and frustration. They cheered me when rejection came, when my felt worth plummeted. They continued to pursue friendship in the midst of our differing life paths. They offered a home when I did not have one. They prayed and pleaded of the Lord when I barely had words left for Him.

In this desert a dear friend offered to serve as my life coach. I took stock of my life and found that it was well rounded, and I was relatively content…except for my abysmal romantic life.  There had been a series of bad dates, encounters that made me glad to be single! As a highly controlled and armored woman, I was invited to take the risk of vulnerability and offer kindness to men. It felt dangerous and a little foolish. When triggered, I was invited to step out of my insecurity, hurt, and contempt. It felt like carefully stepping out of my well-worn armor and laying down my weapons. It was vulnerable and freeing. I was learning to offer kindness when my instincts told me to run. It was in that place I learned to love.

Aimee is an Asian American physician, recently married to the love of her life.  She loves deep, honest conversation, being silly with her husband and pondering God’s presence in this broken world.  She is honored to contribute to Red Tent Living, but requests anonymity in respect for her personal and professional privacy. b