During my second attempt to have a fully functioning blog (this is my third), I wrote a piece titled, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, in which I briefly spoke about my once inability to recognize and separate other emotions from what I understood to be love and the importance of self love. I never once believed, nor do I presently believe, that once something is written, the story is over. That period of time has, rather, been marked by a learning experience. And so, here’s so more insight concerning love…
So you’ve had your first, or second or third, heartbreak. You manage to get over the initial feelings of loneliness and newness of being “alone” again. You find love again, and this time, it surpasses everything you’ve ever imagined. You don’t have to tell him what hurts—he already knows. You’re posting the pictures on Instagram that everyone likes. #relationshipgoals is YOUR hashtag. Life couldn’t be better. Until it isn’t. You don’t fall out of love, but life intervenes and what you were once able to do at free will now comes at a cost—whether its time, priority, money—the “perfect” relationship has encountered a stormy sea.
But it’s not worth giving up.
Most people are comfortable with “Girl, it’s time for him to go! You need to move on”. And while in SEVERAL cases this is true, there are some that don’t require all of that. Some require patience. Some require forgiveness and understanding. Some require—wait for it—LOVE.
The way I now see it, there are several emotions that we all consider love—infatuation, lust, excitement, newness, potential. We decide, “I like this person enough to spend my time and energy because he makes me feel good.” Until he doesn’t. Then the first thing we all say is, “I don’t feel the love anymore”.
Everyone has his or her own way of defining love. Here is mine: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)”
So what does this mean? That if a relationship ended I never loved that person? I think that requires self-examination. However, I do believe that, if my definition of love is correct, then even if the relationship ended, and it served the better good of both individuals, then that in fact was love. In the same way parents sometimes have to let their children fail in order for them to grow, some relationships must end so that each individual can reach their highest potential. If this is done and both parties can move forward, then I believe that in itself is an act of love.
On the other hand, I believe that truly loving someone means you are there, through thick and thin. To clarify—I am not talking about staying with a man who cheats or is verbally or physically abusive—the first step to really loving someone is loving yourself and staying in those types of relationships does not promote self love. However, what I am saying is, sometimes life gets hard. We go through job changes, loss of loved ones, societal pressures and anxieties, financial hardships, illnesses. Sometimes, the pains are even deeper and we suffer from depression or thoughts of suicide. While trying to sort through all of this, we don’t always love, because love is a verb—it is an action that must take place in order to be felt or received. Most importantly, it’s a choice. When the person you “love” happens to fail at making the choice to love, do you respond like them or do you respond with patience? Forgiveness that wasn’t requested? A calm temperament? A deep knowing that this will pass and your love will prevail? Not many of us can respond with an emphatic yes because this is hard to accomplish, but it’s not impossible.
As Valentine’s Day 2017 has approached us, the word “love” will be thrown around like confetti. For those who may feel like this is the worst “holiday” because they don’t have anyone to love or anyone to love them, consider this: do you want a “second hand emotion” like Ms. Turner called it—empty and incapable of enduring tough times, or would you rather wait to experience the love that’s a constant choice to never fail?
I particularly enjoy Valentine’s Day and always have. Even when I was “alone”, I “loved” the idea of love and hoped for a day that a true celebration of such would be mine. But more than being a hopeless romantic, I’ve experienced the love I defined earlier. And such love helps me to choose to love myself daily.
My definition of love comes from the Bible. As Paul teaches the church at Corinth the key to unity (a lesson the world is still in dire need of), he defines love as the greatest of all things. We see the greatest example of love in Jesus Christ whose main purpose was to live just to die to pardon our sins to bring reconciliation back to our Father. While most of us—prayerfully—will not have to sacrifice our lives to prove our love, this example shows us all just how deep love goes. Sometimes it’s beyond reason; sometimes you’re the only person who will know how to show it. But it’s healing, its salvific, and it’s the most Christ like choice we all can make.
And the best part is, we can start with ourselves.
Are you patient with yourself? Do you speak kindly about yourself? Do you envy other people, or boast in arrogance? Do you seek to dishonor others to bring glory to yourself? How do you respond to difficult situations, or even to your own personal bad decisions? Do you continue to wallow in self-pity, replaying in your mind the mistakes you’ve made or the transgressions made against you? Are you happy for others when things are going well for them? Do you take delight in telling and knowing the truth? Do you protect yourself, always hope the best for yourself, persevere against all attacks and never give up on yourself?
Because it starts there.
We cannot possibly give real love—the kind this piece describes—if we don’t have it to give.
So to all my lovebirds, and lovebird-hopefuls, let us take the time to practice self-love so that in every relationship moving forward, we know how deep this love thing really goes. Let us look to the greatest Lover that ever lived as an example, and may we be hopeful that love truly never fails and is the greatest of all.