What it means to stay

“I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” -Oriah MD

When I first read Oriah’s The Invitation, these are the words that I couldn’t get past. It was over 10 years ago, and I remember how these words landed in my chest. These simple words piece together into the deepest commitment of love. In summary they state, “I’m not going anywhere.” I usually despise summaries. I am much more verbose. It sounds passionate, doesn’t it? Verbose; it’s even a little sexy. While summary is clinical, it’s too simple to be meaningful, right?

I mean, if you are going to profess love, you write a prolix composition with extended metaphors, and similes and carefully structured syntactically sound sentences (with alliteration) and careful word choice. You don’t cut it to the least common denominator and make love analogous to math — it’s too logical, and what the Hell is logical about love?

Even Oriah’s words which are, in her heart, an attempt at defining love don’t make logical sense. Who stays when things are uncomfortable? Who commits to that? Who doesn’t try to fix discomfort? It’s logical to leave — to remove the thorn, or at least ignore it — but stay with it? Where’s the logic in that?

And yet, if I can stay in the discomfort of pain without leaving then I must be in love.

What else would it be? And so love becomes the coordinate where logic and emotion mesh — that summary of a prolix composition where the lines of lovers cross and create a haven of total paradoxical ambiguity — that balance of staying in discomfort, all the while comforted by the illogical fact that we are vulnerably strong enough to dwell in its house, sleep in its bed and become who we were meant to be as it raises us in the only way that a committed love can.

Erica ❤️

Written by Erica Denman