Part of the terror of forging and cultivating relationships is that we are flawed. Hopelessly, agonizingly flawed. To care very deeply about someone else is to open yourself up to being hurt by them.

But even more terrifying, at least for me, is the knowledge that to whomever I allow and encourage to get close to me, whoever has given me a piece of their heart, as they hold a piece of mine—I am inevitably human. I am flawed.

And sometime along the line, I will hurt them.

A misplaced word, a thoughtless action, a lost temper, neglecting to communicate, conflicting interests, failure to support them well enough when they need me. As hard as I try to keep my faults self-contained, I will fail those I care about. Somehow, some way, I will hurt them.

My only hope is that those I have chosen to surround myself with trust me enough to know my overall intentions are good, to know that I am trying, even when I fall short, and to be willing to be open and honest with me, continuing to love me even when they see the cracks, the blemishes, the scars. Even when my mistakes end up burning them directly.

If it were up to me, I would shoulder all the hurt of my mistakes. I would make it so that no one else had to be affected when I fall. But to be connected to someone else is to impact them. For better or for worse.

Still, in the midst of this fearful give-and-take, I have realized something. I have come close enough to my dear ones that I see, at least in part, their weaknesses, their barbed insecurities—the hurts and fears that have the potential to sabotage their relations with other people (and me, by association). I see where we clash. Pet peeves committed and tolerated in return, frustrating habits, things that sometimes make me worry we’ll drift apart.

But even as I see this, I find I still love them.

For their flaws, in spite of their flaws. For the people they are and the people they want to be. For their innermost selves, in seeing the things that set their hearts on fire. For the sacrifices they have made. For the ways they have sought to connect and leave an impact on this earth. All of it.

My dear ones are imperfect and dangerous, just as I am. But they are so much more than their faults. So I trust them, I support them, I risk connecting with them.

Because I love them dearly.

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