The month of love is fast approaching. The vibrant red of heart-shaped boxes and pink Cupids with insipid declarations of love eternal will surround us. Retailers will taunt us with sales on everything from two dozen roses, to diamond pendants, to sports cars; all of which are guaranteed to prove our undying love to our Significant other. Bleh!
That's not love! I want no part of that. Love is not that easily understood. It can't be packaged, bought, or sold. It's anything but cliché, frivolous, or fragile. Showing our love for each other must never be commercialized, or forced. Summarizing it in the exchange of a card or gift will never be possible. No, love is realized in the everyday, long suffering, all-encompassing acceptance it provides the receiver. Love is never the fairy tale because the fairy tale never shows the effort that goes into genuinely loving another.
Happily ever after is possible, for sure, just not the way it’s normally portrayed. That is a myth. Loving another is easy-peasy in the beginning - when everything is new and exciting. When the object of your affection is still being pursued, and the novelty of their uniqueness hasn’t yet faded into “normalsville,” it feels like you could continue like this forever….. HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
At some point along the path, though, the “new” wears off, and the reality of living and loving another broken human hits. Love becomes tougher, the glitter flakes off in a few places revealing the rawness beneath. It is in these times, that the Majesty of real love begins to show.
You see, true love is for warriors. For people with hutzpah, and grit. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. For true, enduring love costs. At its core, love loves no matter, whether it’s reciprocated or not. It longs to be rewarded with the mutual return of itself, but in the face of that lack, love still exists.
Love flows, and it ebbs. It struggles but always wins. It is real, vibrant, strong and connecting. Love is always sincere, never cunning, never deceitful. Love withstands the storms of life, never withering in the face of adversity, rather it fights courageously to overcome.
Real love is deep and abiding. It always invests in another. Encouraging them, supporting, and walking alongside. It's always action, but not always a feeling. It's never letting go of the value of another. Never giving up, walking out, or caving when it's tough. It’s humble, kind, and enduring. Loving another means you never envy them, but rather build them up and encourage them any way you can.
Love says you are as valuable as I am, and probably more so, at least in my eyes. Love serves, never demanding. It heals, rather than wounding. Love sees you, down deep, even when you try to hide. Love is simultaneously safe and scary, but in a good way, because in it you will find true acceptance for who you are right in that moment. And that same love that accepts you also strives to leave you better than it found you.
Love is paradoxical. It is fierce, yet gentle; protective, but freeing. Love is deepened when it releases itself. It never holds another back, but always honors liberty. Which in turn binds us to it all the more, because in it we find freedom. The gracious act of being allowed to be free makes us appreciate the giver of that love, creating within us a deeper desire for them. Some say love is terrifying, but it’s not the love that terrifies, it is the fear that it won’t be found, that we won’t be accepted, or enough, that makes us quake.
This love, though, always believes and is faithful - even amidst faithlessness. It inspires; passionately emboldening one with a fire that cannot be quenched. Love chooses to remain, to sacrifice for the object of itself. It brings life in its richness and leaves the deepest void imaginable, with its absence.
Love never controls! Never manipulates! Ever true and strong, even with buckling knees, love applauds accomplishments and aspirations, sharing an opinion when asked, while not demanding it be followed. It is warmth, light, life, and hope; love is good and pure.
Love is loving another as much or more than ourselves, in all circumstances. It doesn't celebrate wrongdoing, rather it loves, regardless. Quietly acknowledging the truth of a situation, but choosing the righteous way. It doesn’t disparage or pull down. Love in all of its complexity is truly a simple thing. We just try to complicate it with brokenness and expectations. Love will always put another first, acknowledging - no - celebrating their right to be, and to be loved.
So, as this season comes upon us, I encourage you to celebrate the love you receive in your life and celebrate the ones you are blessed to love. Because, after all, true love is the most expensive, the most precious gift, and it should be celebrated 365 days a year!
Kathy is a speaker, trainer, mentor, survivor leader and currently serves as Program Director and speaker team member for RBI.