When Their Mind's Made Up (Shower Thoughts pt. 2)
An old friend of mine sent me a text yesterday. He's going through a break up that he doesn't want to go through, and he's a bit blind sided by it. To him, things were working. You know, not perfect, but nothing is. It was working; he likes that. Evidently for her, just working is not enough. As much as I wanted to console him and tell him that things will be okay, and she's probably just waiting for him to fight for her, I couldn't bring myself to think that was true.
This morning, I was doing my shower thinking, pondering my friend's situation, and as all great shower thoughts do, the most bitter-sweet of ugly truths popped into my mind. It was so irrefutable, yet so heartbreaking that I just repeated the phrase under my breathe for 10 minutes repeatedly: When their mind's made up, the most loving thing you can do is let them have their decision.
There's a lot of things human beings don't get to decide. None of us get to decide where we're born, who our parents or siblings are, our genetics, or even the things that we ultimately end up liking or gravitating toward. These kinds of things make up who we are, and quite frankly, it can be pretty disheartening to feel like you don't get much say in the things that make up who you are. There is one big thing that we do get to decide on though, that does play a vital role in making us who we are: Who we spend our lives with.
Who we spend our lives, our precious non-refundable time with is not something that anybody should feel obligated to throw in any particular direction. With perhaps some exceptions, fighting for somebody to stay is usually another form of asking them to relinquish one of the few freedoms of choice they have, the choice of who they want to be shaping them. It's a hard pill to swallow, but somebody deciding that you are not the one they want shaping them is not necessarily a personal attack, but rather an exercise of human liberty. To try and guilt somebody out of that liberty is, well, not all that loving.
I believe a lot of marriages end because of this. It's not for a lack of love, but for a lack of honesty. Loving somebody is very different than wanting to be shaped by them, and there is no more formative of a personality in your life than the person you who eat breakfast with, raise your children or future children with, and fall asleep next to every night. Loving somebody isn't necessarily enough criteria in and of itself for picking the right person to do those kinds of things with.
So it's possible, probable in fact that somebody telling you they love you but can't be with you is true, as untrue and unfair is as it may sound. If really you love me, you would stay. This is a romantic statement; It is certainly cinematic and a perfect cue for a teary-eyed, kiss in the rain, violins singing redemption moment. But maybe it isn't a loving statement. Maybe it's an unfair pressurizing statement with undertones of Do you want to be responsible for breaking me? or Clearly you lied to me when you said you loved me. I hate you if you do this. That's hardly a loving message to send to somebody.
Ultimately, to let somebody have their decision is to allow them a complete and unadulterated right to choose what they desire for their life. That is love. Love is a choice and love is allowing freedom of choice. Love is always choosing, and never obligation. It's an oh-so difficult thing to surrender to, but fighting for somebody who has made up their mind only creates suffering. Even if you convince them to stay, you will never fully feel chosen, and they will never fully feel like they got to choose. That isn't something you want to impose on somebody you love, nor yourself.
I pray to God I'm never faced with a walk away situation again. But if I am, I hope I heed this advice - this painfully true shower advice. And I hope my friends do too. I want to see a world full of people who feel chosen, not settled for. When their mind's made up, the most loving thing you can do is let them have their decision.
If you never stop when you wave goodbye, you just might find if you give time, you will wave hello again... - John Mayer (Wheel)