Someone counseled me last night to keep my heart open.

But they had no idea how hurt I was inside.

Keeping an open heart is being open to betrayal, to hurt, to loss and overwhelming pain. It's being willing to emotionally invest in people who might never give back, willing to believe in places that may only lead to sorrow. It's not being blind to people's failures, but being willing to believe in them and their ability to change, to trust them, to give them endless chances to move forward and try again.

It's a tried-and-true method of exchanging love for more hurt than I could ever imagine.

And is it worth it?

Emotionally? No.

I've started keeping track of the friendships I try to develop. And the vast majority end in excruciating pain on my end... usually long before they begin to pay emotional dividends. There is no rational reason for me to share my heart with individuals or the world when for decades doing exactly that has led to pain, betrayal, and realizing that others never really cared in the first place.

In some twisted, or divine, way, though, that same pain has made me a better person. More aware of the pain and sorrow and suffering in the world... and, ironically, it has opened my heart to helping others.

But each time I'm burned I find have a hard time trusting people again. I can trust them to exist, to make mistakes, and perhaps to even bring some sort of temporary respite to life. But can I trust them to be committed? To be honest? Is it wise, or even safe, to give my heart and soul to someone, even when they need it, when so many have crushed it without a word or a care?

That's the thing. Being a true friend to someone requires trust, even in tenuous times. It requires honesty and vulnerability. 

And the reality of the matter is that those will lead to pain... as they have in the far and recent past.

Hence why I am in pain right now.

I want it to stop.

And I could make it happen. I could numb in a thousand different ways - from seeking endorphin highs at the gym to drinking myself to oblivion. And to keep myself safe I could close my heart and simply stop believing in people. 

Closing off to people, and the world, isn't hard... and likely few would even notice.

But that's not what life is, right? It's important to surround myself with good people. To choose my closest friends from only those who have made the same goals and who are committed to being there for me for eternity. But it's also important to love people... to forgive them... and to turn to relationships with the hope that the other person will be there for me - to be reliant and give people the opportunity to be there for me and part of my life a second and a third and a thousand other times.

Dear world, I am hurt. You have betrayed and discarded me once again, when I did everything I knew how... and gave everything I had.

And yet a sense of honor, and need to do the right thing, and whatever else it is, courses through me. Honor sometimes seems masochistic. Why would I jump back into the fray of emotional pain only moments after being destroyed... just because it's the right thing to do?

Because it's the right thing to do.

For everyone else, it seems that the game returns a net positive. And while it may ultimately bring me only pain and misery, at least I can be a friend to someone for a moment along the way... and make the world a little better place. The honor inside me says that my pain is worth less than someone else's... and even if I feel a hundred times more, if I can help someone in need, be there for someone who wants help coming closer to God, then it's worth it.

And I believe that.

God loves and is hurt far more than I could ever imagine. He knows me and my heart. And, thanks to Him... it'll all be ok.

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