I wrapped up a client meeting and went to meet a few friends from college for drinks. These guys were my lifeline during my last two years. I didn’t quite trust many women—most of them wanted to be my friend to gain entry into my sorority—so I resulted to my amazing roommates and these guys. We dubbed ourselves the “frat house”, and I was the first and only lady every admitted to the crew.
Every Thursday we carved out time and space for us to commune together. We told jokes, laughed, and drank; it was our weekly ritual. But since graduating almost 10 years ago, we haven’t seen much of each other.
This occasion was in honor of my brother who was moving to a small town in Georgia. I pulled up, late, but couldn’t wait to see the men I dubbed my brothers since starting, what I come to know as, my saving grace.
I was battling depression that no one knew about, but our weekly antics — affectionately dubbed FratHouse Thursdays — kept me afloat. They gave me something to look forward to each week. I felt community with them. I felt joy with them. And I didn’t have to share any secrets to do so. They accepted me flaws and all. Loved me regardless of my bratty tendencies, and protected me like I was a blood sister of theirs. While we may not have spoken everyday — or spoken too in depth about life — these men were my family, and I didn’t realize how true that was until this recent gathering.
I didn’t realize how present love was amongst us until we sat around that table sharing laughs and tequila shots.
For a long time I thought love was reserved for people who knew my deepest darkest secrets. I thought it should only be given to those who’d put themselves on the line for me (just as I’d do for them). I thought it was for those who checked up on me and stood boldly in the gaps when I couldn’t do so myself. But the older I get the more I realize that love is a bit broader than that. Love isn’t about restriction, it’s about freedom. Love should be given and received whenever I feel most comfortable doing so. It’s not just for those who’ve watched me cry, fight, or succeed, it is for anyone who has etched a piece of themselves in my heart, no matter how long-lasting or short-lived.
Love is meant for those who I enjoy in the moment and those whose moments have long expired. Those who teach me about myself even when it’s unwanted. Those who love me back through word and deed. Those I share laughs with, memories with, and sometimes jobs with. Those who sometimes show up, or sometimes sit out. Those who know everything about my plight and those who know nothing.
The struggle is that most of our love comes with conditions. It comes with expectations. So instead of passing it out, we hold it close to us until someone proves themselves to meet what we demand. We stop ourselves from saying it — even though we feel it — because we don’t want anyone else to think we’re soft. Or crazy. Or foolish. Because we, ironically, feel that they don’t deserve what God wants us to freely hand out.
Love doesn’t need a reason to exist—it just does.
It just is.
And that is the beauty of it.
Love is not only reserved for those who’ve known you the longest or who knows the most about you. It’s not saved just for those who have supported you in rough times and got you out of darkness. It is, and should be, a space for everyone who has impacted your life. Anyone who has forced you to grow — through inspiration or hardship. Anyone who has made you laugh or cry. Anyone who has helped you heal. And frankly, anyone (period).
Love is not a fight to the top, or a challenge to see who can stand the test of time. It is not a competition. It is not a battle. It is not survival of the fittest. Love is for all, and when we stop restricting it simply to those that fit our box, or meet our standard, we’ll be able to feel it — and give it — more deeply….more freely.
Love is meant to be handed out like strawberry candies at church, and the more I realize that, the freer I become.