on love

I knew they were French when they got on the B48 bus headed towards Greenpoint. They had great eyebrows and fashion sense, confirmed by a thick accent as they took seats a few rows behind me. I was sitting alone en route to my hospitality duties at the evening service in Williamsburg Sunday night, so we shared the bus for a good 40 minutes.

“…I mean, what is a relationship? …

She said this as they swiped metro cards, taking the conversation inside for the ride. The silent buzz of the near empty bus made her words sound even more hollow.

“You meet someone, and have small talk, then you see if you want to be friends…

Every pause pulled me in to her reflection.

“If it is a man and a woman, you have sex, and maybe then it is more, maybe not…

Her statements sounded sad, resigned to a formula that hadn’t made relational sense for her yet, though she wanted and expected it to.

“Is it the point to find someone forever?”

The question just hung there in French accented beauty. Is it? I thought.

“He wasn’t telling me about his mom, you know, everything that was going on with her… and I didn’t want to break up with him, I just wanted to move out. I didn’t feel right anymore, needed space. But when I called to move out, he wanted to break up…”

The beeps at the Ocean Avenue stops interrupted her reflections, but she seemed too wrapped up in her story to notice. Every end of sentence trailed off to hang in the air – hoping for someone to prove her wrong. She didn’t ever pause long enough for her friend to console her or advise her, just long enough to sound like sad heaviness on top of her heart.

“In the end, we left each other…”

The weight of those words now weighed down my heart, too. I know – how helpless does that sound? I was a stranger eavesdropping on two sweet girls in the middle of their Sunday night transit conversation and her weight was weighing down my heart.

I don’t think her friend spoke at all until a few minutes before I got off at Metropolitan. And when she did, she asked a question about printing business cards – by that time she was just trying to subtly change the subject and help her heavy-hearted friend move on.

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but there was nothing hidden about her honest questions. There was nothing dramatic about her story, nothing staged as far as I could tell. She rambled on and trailed off about the confusing mess of her relationship because she honestly didn’t know what had gone wrong. She weaved in and out of anecdotes in search of that one thing that would have changed all other things.

But her uncomfortable conclusion was, “in the end we left each other…” because she had to think about other things, like business cards and dry cleaning and 9 am on Monday morning.

Her conclusion made me uncomfortable too, but I think I can pinpoint why: we were not made for this. Love might be a mystery, but it makes sense when you know the mystery maker. We were not made to take direction from our foolish, deceitful hearts when it comes to love because we will always end up trailing off sad sentences and rambling sad stories.

God is love and God wrote love into Creation. He is the author of love and He is the only way it will make sense. 

I stepped off the bus to walk to church impossibly hoping they would get off and walk in the same direction. They didn’t. It’s Wednesday now and I’m still thinking about that French girl with heaviness on her heart. I hope she finds the Mystery maker, the Author of love who can help her sort it out.

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