The moment I have a good thing, I’m always terrified I’m going to lose it. The brighter the memory, the crazier the joy, the more golden the relationships, the more cataclysmic that fear is. I have always hated the way it encroaches on the bet of moments, trying to push its dark, stalking, heavy, fanged presence out of my life with both hands. And it’s dang hard.

Looking back on my life, I think this lurking joy thief haunts my steps so doggedly because many of my best and brightest joys–specifically people–tend to leave me. No one is ever as permanent as they feel. I have had to fight the lie that I am not enough. I just have always wished people would fight as hard for me as I’m willing to fight for them.

And now, they’re all terrified. The people who I have fallen in love with these past few weeks and who have become my family are as scared of losing their home in each other as I ever was. They don’t have control over that joy and safety as they would like. And it’s hard to trust in this new Spring love we’ve just found when so often people just don’t fight for us as they should. For me, this experience has been one of secondhand terror, the utter chaos in my head transplanted by osmosis, their roots of uncertainty travelling from their hearts into our joined hands and into my own center. I understand what it’s like to be left behind.

But for me, that bitter root finds itself unable to penetrate the hardy green-wood coating of life and hope and faithfulness these people have gifted me. The fear will not take root inside my heart, where I guard these strong fledgling bonds jealously. I will not let the cold reach them and kill their warm purple flowers, just having bloomed from tentative buds. Because for once, I HAVE A CHOICE. (how good does it feel to say it, I have a choice!! a choice a choice a choice, hear it ring!) Nothing is being taken from me. And I will not let it be so, will not deceive myself into thinking I am impotent when it comes to protecting the happiness and friendship of the people I love and love me. I finally get to fight for a ship that’s not sinking and with a crew that actually cares, if minorly despairing. The sun is merely behind a cloud, the wind is merely waiting for tomorrow.

Maybe people are just not used to others–even wonderful people–fighting not to leave them. I guess when it’s something you never do yourself, because you know it won’t work one-sided, you forget that it doesn’t mean it won’t work at all. I’ve never been able to stop trying–I have found myself incapable of being passive, and that means when I get hurt, I get hurt. But I can’t help it, and I’ve never truly regretted it about myself. I think it’s a better way to live, a fuller way to love.

But for the first time I can remember–I have a choice. It’s my turn to decide whether it’s more worth it to go or remain. I can go off into the unknown in pursuit of new adventures, or I can stay here with the known delights of people who actually care about me. I can go hunting for more amazing people to adventure with, not knowing if they’ll accept me, or keep on building deeper with a family that’s already wholeheartedly said yes to living life with me. I could go looking for more people to want me or hold fast to people who have already said they don’t want me to go. We’re not perfect. We are messy, broken, confused, hurt, sinful people, just like the rest of the world, downright human. But we know how to love. And who to love, and how to live with the certainty of being loved back. And that is an indescribably precious gift. That’s called community. That’s called friendship. That’s called family. That’s called home. That’s called love.

And in the end, I know it was never really a choice at all.

I will always choose to stay.