On Sunday night, my plane landed in Baltimore, MD. I had been visiting family for the Halloween weekend and was on a transfer flight from Utah to Florida. As soon as the stewardess gave the okay, I turned on my phone and immediately saw that “Marriage Isn’t For You” had received nearly 2.2 million views—in 36 hours.
I sat on the airplane, staring at my phone in absolute shock. Truthfully, I don’t know how long I sat there. When I managed to look up, the stewardess was apparently talking to me, a look of concern on her face.
“Um, sir? Are you planning on staying with us? Because…we’re not going anywhere.”
Glancing around, I suddenly realized that I was the last Southwest customer on the plane.
For the next two hours, I shakily wandered around the airport in Baltimore, making a couple phone calls and sending a few hurried text messages. Despite being someone who loves to write, I’m at a loss to describe what I was feeling. I certainly never intended my post to be read by 2.2 million people—much less 24 million people (and perhaps much more with all of the reprints on various sites). Honestly, I thought that 5,000-10,000 clicks would have been a monumental accomplishment. So to see a number like 24 million is staggering, inspiring, overwhelming, and more than a little intimidating.
As of today, “Marriage Isn’t For You” has been prominently featured on The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Cosmopolitan, MSN.com, Yahoo.com, The Matt Walsh Blog, Deseret News, Today.com (and apparently the Today SHOW), KSL News, TheBlaze, and Fox & Friends, with a few more interviews scheduled.
Seeing all of this, Kim and I are filled with gratitude and excitement (but we’re also looking forward to the time when things calm down enough for us to go back to watching episodes of Fringe—what is the “Walternate” up to??)
I’m touched by the thousands of emails, comments, and messages of renewed hope and inspiration. Although I cannot respond to all of them, please know that I do read as much as time allows me and I am buoyed by your words. I wish you all the best in seeking a new beginning in your relationships.
On a more personal level, I have been astounded by the meteoric rise of The Seven Paths on Amazon.com. The Seven Paths by the Anasazi Foundation was a self-published book that completely changed my life. Last year, I took that book to Berrett-Koehler Publishers in San Francisco and they officially published it this past August. I put several links to it on my website and after my post went viral, The Seven Paths has skyrocketed on Amazon.com. I’m excited for all those who will read it. That book has helped me battle depression, overcome obstacles, and has inspired many of my own personal writings.
Now, after everything that has happened there are three things that I really want to say:
First, I want to state very clearly and very emphatically that I am a deeply flawed human being. I am not a perfect husband and I have made major mistakes. Furthermore, Kim and I are not immune to future problems. So I am not your go-to guy for marriage advice/counsel. Keep in mind that my post was based upon my Dad’s advice, not mine.
Nevertheless, some have assumed that because I have written this post I perceive myself to be flawless and that I think my young marriage is blissfully indestructible. That simply isn’t true. Remember, it was my selfishness, my mistakes, and my resentment that had threatened to destroy our marriage. There is nothing virtuous to be found in my actions. It was Kim that responded with love and forgiveness. It was her loving response that tore down the walls in my heart and made me plead for a new beginning.
So please, please, please understand that I need this advice just as much as anyone else. I will need it today, tomorrow, five years from now, and forty years from now. I am constantly in need of being reminded that love is about others and that real love is ever-reaching outward, beyond ones own self.
With that in mind, here is the second thing I want to say: You do not lose your identity the more you love someone else—instead, you find it.
Many of the criticisms of my blog post have been centered on the idea that if you love/devote yourself to another person too much, you will lose your identity and the uniqueness that you bring to the table. But real love does just the opposite.
Keep in mind that I’m talking about love, not co-dependent or abusive relationships, because that’s not love. As I said in the post, real love isn’t selfish it’s selfless. Real love sprouts from a love within ourselves (and for ourselves) and reaches outward—constantly outward—ever seeking to bring comfort, shade and protection to more and more people. But real love isn’t always all fluffy and cute. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. More often than not, real love asks us to do hard things, almost impossible things: to repeatedly try to help a sibling overcome an addiction again and again and again, to care for your aging parents, to comfort someone who is suffering, to risk your own safety in order to protect another, or to give birth to a child.
Real love is hard and real love is a sacrifice. But it is a sacrifice that transforms us into the fullest measure of our identity.
In this, I think our lives are like a seed: we may choose to isolate ourselves and remain a seed (retaining what we think to be our “identity”), or we can choose to open ourselves up to unbelievable potential (through tremendous, and often painful, growth). Real love facilitates and encourages this potential in another, while selfish “love” seeks to stifle it.
Is all of this a bit too idealistic? Perhaps. But I would rather be striving for the ideal than not striving at all.
And the third thing I have to say is this:
Ellen DeGeneres, we should hang out!
(Kim and I are free on Mondays…)
Categories: Seth Adam Smith