When I think of love, my mind is first flooded with couples from media, books, stories, and fantasies. Lyrics that croon about the everlasting sensation of being in love and being loved back.
Those breathtaking moments we’re taught to expect — the meet-cutes, the romances, the daring feats fueled by passion and unconditional love we’re all spoon-fed from toddlerhood.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking about the compassion and love that my family and friends have gifted me throughout my life, and I wanted to share a few thoughts — from this restless heart of mine to yours. Not out of bitterness, but from the same curiosity that follows me in everything I do.
I’ve never had a great love. A few fumbling attempts, sure, but nothing that quite lived up to the shimmering glow of fiction. I know my time on earth has been brief, but somehow the clock feels like it’s ticking on finding that sensational relationship I hear so much about.
But, as I tend to do this time of year, I’ve started to dissect what love actually means. Where does it show up the most? What are its forms? Is romantic love the only love of value, as it is suggested in most central forms of media?
That last one is easy – no.
After those first bursts of imagery relating to love fade, they shift into something else.
The love that has touched my life the most is the love of family. It’s when my brother took me out to coffee before I moved away; when we took pictures down by the river. It’s when he drove me and my mom to the airport at 2 am without a single complaint. It’s in the way he hugged me goodbye. It’s the way he texts me good morning almost every day.
Love is in my mom, flying across the country with me without a second of hesitation. Or when she waited patiently for Taylor Swift tickets to go on sale and camped out by the computer to snap them up when I couldn’t, because I was at work. Or when she’d sit across from me in our family kitchen and listen to my every angst-ridden rant and dream as if there was nowhere else she’d rather be.
I may not have a great sweeping romance, but this love? This love is what life is built on.
No matter where my story goes, I can hold fast to this love and know that it is just as valuable.
Maybe you’ve struggled with feeling left behind. Maybe you’ve felt inadequate beside others with partners, wondered if there was something wrong with you, wondered if there was any hope that you’d find someone who sees you for who you are and chooses to stay.
I’d say to remember the forms of love that haven’t left you, the consistent love. Don’t be too busy looking for that flash and wow romance that you forget the love that made you, sustained you.
If you haven’t had that, I’d take it a step further and remember that you are loved by God. His love is the purest you’ll ever have on this earth. No matter how the world has beaten you up or scorned you, that love is unwavering.
I don’t need an epic romance to know what true love is. I write this without spite or envy for those who have one or want one. That’s just as beautiful.
But I like what I’ve got. I hope you do too.
Thank you for reading.