I imagine being in love is feeling about a girl the way I do about Italy. I’ve never actually be in love before–not really–but I’m pretty confident in the comparison.
I think about Italy quite literally all the time. This should surprise zero of you who have ever met me, even for .4 seconds. I am that
obnoxious, annoying friend who studied abroad in college. Hello, yes, just go ahead and put that on my business card. “Hi, my name is Garrett Lemons and I will mention Italy in situations that doesn’t require it. At all. Ever mixed Limoncello with Merlot?”
If you sit on my bed, there is a wall dedicated to Venice on your left. There’s an ancient map of Italy across from you. Cinque Terre prints are slightly off-kilter above the futon. There are Italian wine bottles in a bottle chandelier. Florence is off to your right.
Want to escape by laying back and looking up? Nope, there’s a scarf for the soccer team going across the AC duct. Run to the bathroom? Nope. That room is dedicated to Rome.
When I get frustrated with the lack of movement in the job search, I return to the memories of days where the only frustration was having to choose what flavor of gelato to eat–and then just getting both anyway. When I’m cold, I think about the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea in September beneath the blazing sun twinkling on the teal waters. When I’m hungry… do I even have to finish?
[Full disclosure: sometimes I cheat on Italy with Spain. It’s the only time in my life I will ever allow myself to cheat. Croatia is creeping up there as a seductress, but I haven’t been there. Yet. Basically, I am in love with travel. Again, put it on the business card.]
I want to work so I can go back to my love. I’ve done it before, and I’m sure I will do it again if I can. I will only submit the cubicle if I know I can escape it. The world is too large, too beautiful, too wonderful to spend my life working in a box and not enjoying life while it’s short.
But here’s the thing, Italy doesn’t love me back. Italy can’t. In fact, my current, four-years-and-counting bout of depression started there. Italy can’t provide the type of love I need as a human. There are so many experiences it can provide to me, but at the end of the day, when you’re in love with a place, you’re still very much alone.
I’m quite tired of being alone. But when you’re alone you find that you have quite the availability of time to think. And lately, I’ve been thinking about love.
I’m not in love with anyone, and that’s okay. I don’t think it’s really the right time in my life for that either, and that’s okay. I’d rather be a nomad than settled down right now. Unless there’s someone out there who is in the same place, it’s unwise to bring them along for that journey or to ask them to wait. I know there are people out there like that. I’m not alone in that regard, just look at Instagram.
But really, I’ve been thinking about God’s love. As a believer, this is a fact: As a follower of Christ, I am a son and heir. I am loved. I am enough. I am worthy. I am loved. God wants the best for me and my life.
The question I keep asking Him though is always reducible to, “Why?” And the answer, with no explanation or further embellishment of information is, “Because I love you.” Which then leads to my question: “What do we do when God’s love doesn’t feel like love at all?”
There’s a huge theological debate on whether God is love on the grand scale, especially between believers and non. “If God is love (good), why does he allow suffering? Famine?” You’ve all heard or postulated the arguments before. But I want to be more selfish. It’s human nature to be more selfish. “If God is love–if God loves me–why does He allow this depression?”
“Why am I stuck in this cycle of deep frustration and waiting? What is the purpose of having to deal with thoughts of not-existing–(I can’t call it suicide because it is not that.)–every single day? How does this create holiness or an example worth drawing people to Christ? Why would any non-believer look at my life and want this?”
I try to indulge my selfishness by bring it back to a kingdom purpose. If I were a non-believer looking at my life, I would never believe. But living my life, somehow, someway, I still believe. I know that everything this side of eternity is lacking perspective and I know there is still plenty of time for this to be turned around and redeemed. My God is big enough for that.
But I also know that if I should die seconds after posting this blog post, there’s an eternal reason for this season I’ve been in. That even though every dream and desire and moment of life that I wouldn’t get, I’d be fulfilled in eternity.
But it still doesn’t feel like love right now. And it doesn’t feel like Italy–like something I could look back on in times of heaviness. Because this is the heaviness. It’s supposed to be easy and light, this burden of Christ. But we are also promised suffering. We’re also promised provision.
If there’s something I’ve learned, He keeps His promises. Even if you’re disappointed in how he balances the suffering and the provision. Even if the provision is exactly enough and nothing more, it’s still provision. Provision doesn’t mean abundance, despite how beyond frustrating that knowledge is. We’re a western, capitalistic society. God is neither of those things. But He’s good and kind, just not what we picture as good or kind.
It’s funny, when you look at what God calls love, how God shows love, it makes you realize that we don’t really understand or know love at all. So I don’t feel loved, at all really, but I know I am loved. And I don’t really know where that leaves me or how to move forward with changing my thinking.
But I do love Italy.