From A Man: On Love, Insecurity, & Falling For Broken Girls.
Editor’s Note: This might be one of my favorite posts we’ve ever published. It was submitted by Luke Hassevoort. You can find him on Twitter at
A friend once asked me, “Do you always fall for broken girls?” It wasn’t a question I needed to think about for long. I do fall for broken girls, and caring about them has resulted in a lot of pain.
I’ve used the word “love” far too casually in my life. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t use the word love to describe the way you feel about someone, or that there is something inherently wrong about using the word love as liberally as you find comfortable; God knows the world needs it. But I think I’ve abused the word. Love is powerful, it is profound, it is a word that builds and enriches. Yet love is not some simple salve to mend wounds, it is so much more than that, and deserves to be so much more than that.
Far too often I have used the word love out of desperation, afraid of losing something that was never really mine to begin with. And in my desire to express my deep affection and in hopes of drawing in that which I loved, I cheapened the word, made it into a plea. I thought, if I could only entice this girl with that word, she might not leave.
But that’s not the way things work.
And when you throw that word out and it’s left hanging in space, that’s a painful thing. It makes you feel as if the bottom of the world dropped out and you’re left standing on nothing but a history of similar mishaps and missteps. In a very real way, we begin to see our present and our future as a prolonged and tragic enactment of our past. I don’t think we feel despair because of the hurt in our lives; I think we feel despair because we’ve lived the same story on repeat and see no possibility of living a different one.
We are indescribably insecure.
For the longest time I’ve tried my best to ig50nore this insecurity, this brokenness. Instead, I focused on the brokenness of girls I loved. In them I recognized something I felt in myself but was too afraid to fully acknowledge. And in a very real sense I was under the delusion that if I could only heal them, make them feel as if they mattered, it would somehow heal me.
But that’s not the way things work.
Sometimes people don’t want to be healed, and sometimes they want to be healed but you can’t do it. And when you can’t, you begin to wonder, “Do I matter?” It’s incredibly difficult to watch someone struggling with despair, or anxiety, and it’s even worse when you get it in your head that you can fix things and rewrite their history in a way that leads them out of that dark place but the truth is you can’t.
It’s really bad when you’re in that dark place yourself and need to be healed but don’t know it.
By focusing on the brokenness of others we make it easy to forget about our own. We compare our struggles, and if we don’t judge ours as measuring up to the suffering of others we discredit it, write it off as insignificant when it isn’t.
I’ve had my fair share of relationships that have ended in pain. I know the feeling of walking home alone, wondering when the reality of the situation would sink in and the overwhelming sense of isolation would build its walls around me. I know the months afterwards when the presence or absence of the sun does not determine the greyness of the skies. No amount of pain is insignificant. And though we try to make it less than what it is, we do it because we’re afraid of the stark reality that sometimes life is filled with loneliness. This is a hard thing to accept, and often something we don’t want to believe about a world created by a loving God.
Jesus knew this better than any of us.
As he was being crucified, he called out, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We are given a profound picture of Christ feeling the weight of our sin, and for the first time, experiencing the separation from God that we are born into. Jesus, wrenched from the arms of his Father, crying out, giving a voice to the loneliness we all feel.
What has become apparent to me is the fact that most brokenness and hurt comes from a place of monophobia, the fear of being alone. While we might say we want answers from those that hurt us, or reasons why we are where we are, those things ultimately leave us in the same place.
What does heal us, however, is presence. Simple, unconditional, presence. This is another thing I learned from the friend who asked me if I always fall for broken girls. She taught me that it was okay to be broken, and in some strange way that I don’t fully understand, in our brokenness we can still be complete.
It was never the case that I saw myself as more put together, or more whole than these girls I cared about; it was simply that I wanted them to never feel that brokenness themselves. Now, I think brokenness is what brought us together and what continues to bring me closer to those around me. It creates a sense of recognition and relationship, but one that takes a lot of work. Pain builds walls, walls less like simple wooden fences between neighbors and more like mountain ranges between strangers in a foreign land. It is the job of love, not to break the walls down, but to scale them and, over time, extend a hand to the stranger on the other side. And when that stranger takes your hand in theirs, it can be the most beautiful thing in the world.
It has been my experience that women are better wall builders than men. But they are also better wall climbers. They know how to expose the scars on their arms and line them up with yours, not caring that they don’t match, just making you feel like yours aren’t so hideous.
Accepting that is something that I’m learning, slowly, and I hope my sisters can continue to teach me and my brothers about the beauty of brokenness.
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