“What is pride, if we can have love shown to us instead?”

I exhaled as I heard someone speak those words on a podcast.

My pride is in my ability to do everything alone and not to need anyone.

It was a learned skill that then became a praised attribute, so I leaned into it. I slowly built a wall between myself and my longings, myself and other people, myself and who I really was. The taller it became, the “safer” I thought I was.

Even amidst the “safety” I thought it provided, I longed to peek over it, perhaps even through a crack, to see if anyone was there. The longer I sat in loneliness, the less safe I felt. The less myself I felt. The more I realized I wanted to let people in.

When I was in high school and college, my friends and church community waited on the other side. They wanted to be there when I was ready to break down that wall. And they helped me take it down, brick by brick.

I made the choice, with God beside me, to trust that if I let down my pride with friends, chosen family, and community, I would be met. What I didn’t realize was the abundance of love that would meet me.

But there is still a desire for more.

Am I greedy for wanting more? No, I’m listening.

I am listening to the true longing that has long held a place in my heart, soul, mind, and body.

A few months ago, one of my best friends told me she was pregnant. I cried when she told me and when she shared videos of her and her husband telling their family.

This summer, another best friend of mine got engaged. I cried tears of happiness with her when it happened. And I cried the whole way home, but for myself.

In both moments, these friends were holding up a mirror, showing me that I too wanted to find love, get married, and be a mom.

My longing for romantic love is the one area where I have kept up that wall of my own pride.

I thought I needed to reach all of these goals before I was “ready” to settle down. Really, my “ready” was my pride getting in the way.

Because really, I am so tired of doing it all alone. My side of the wall is incredibly lonely.

Yes, there are friends, family, and the community I created—but there’s no one to fall asleep next to at night. There’s no one to hold my hand. There’s no one to cook beside in the kitchen. There’s no one to slow dance with. There’s no one to fall deeply in love with. That is what I really want, what I deeply long for.

The word given to me for 2022 was longing. I had no idea why until I reflected on 2021, a year in which God gave me the desires of my heart: a community in a new city; sustained old friendships and cherished new ones; a job I love. When I present my desire to God and lay it at God’s feet, asking and believing for it, God always exceeds my expectations. And I have to believe if I lay down the desire of falling in love, getting married, and becoming a mom, God will fulfill that too.

For six years, I have gone to the same Starbucks after therapy. I order an iced matcha latte and walk around the nearby Anthropologie store—my post-therapy ritual. Since I moved, therapy has been over Zoom or FaceTime. My last session was in person, and for the first time I named my true longings. After my session ended, I returned to that same Starbucks and then to Anthropologie.

I walked in and noticed all of the wedding dresses, because there is now a bridal section. And there is now another bridal salon beside it, too. I couldn’t help but pause, smile, and tear up; this was God’s way of looking at me and saying, “Yes, I know.”

God has known all along. In moments when I’ve met eyes with a stranger and smiled, in moments when I have rocked a baby to sleep, God has been beside me, behind that wall of pride, always paying attention to and knowing what I truly longed for.

Day by day I am choosing to remove that wall by being present in my everyday rhythms and by adjusting my posture to one of independence that also longs for partnership—because I can have both.

So, “What is pride, if we can have love shown to us instead?”

It’s a wall not worth keeping up anymore.

Caroline Schiess grew up in North Carolina and graduated from ECU with her Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently resides in Charlotte and has a full-time job as a project coordinator for a construction company. Writing has always been an extension of who she is, providing a way to explore the space between things, and to tell her story, and the stories within it.