Love is a four-letter word. It can sound like a curse to some, or a song to others. I’ve even heard a joke that love is “evil” spelled backwards (evol). SMH.
I for one, love love. I am a hopeless romantic that attended the University of Love, having read too many (one is too many) romance novels and having watched an unhealthy amount of cheesy rom-coms. Despite my past disappointments, I am still surprisingly optimistic about love.
My parents have been together for 42 years and married for 41. So I guess that’s one reason why. Their love hasn’t been perfect though. In fact, I remember being younger and praying that we wouldn’t have to hear them arguing about bills, money, or the pressures of raising the three of us. Yet, somehow they made it through and are still together (my mother would attribute it to God). I definitely think that the three of us getting older and becoming more self-sufficient helped. Plus, they’re empty nesters now, living in Florida. It’s boring as hell where they are (to me), so I imagine that has brought them even closer.
They recently traveled to a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary in Miami. The couple renewed their vows and had a reception to celebrate. My father enjoyed it so much, that he wants to do the same for his 50th anniversary. I asked him if he would marry my mother again. He said yes and joked that it was too late to find a new wife anyway. Then he got serious and said he wouldn’t want one. She was still the woman he wanted as his partner to navigate life with. Being the sap that I am, I started to tear up.
I’ve been watching the show This Is Us (along with the rest of the world since it’s become such a hit). In the season finale, Rebecca (the mother) and Jack (the father) have an argument and she asks him why he even loves her. Not the old her, but the person she is today. He eventually answers her and says “You’re not just my great love story. You were my big break.” Basically, she changed his life. It’s clear that the thought of a life without her is not a life to him at all.
Of course I cried then too. I want someone to say something like that about me. I want someone to love me as if life depended on it. I want someone to commit to loving me through life’s many storms, ups and downs. I want them to still be there even when the going gets tough. I want to be loved unconditionally. I am not easy to love, but nothing worth having is ever easy.
I am an old soul. I have always loved old school music and I tend to refer to songs from decades ago. As I reflected on my past and present relationships, Tina Turner’s classic What’s Love Got To Do With It immediately came to mind:
I’ve been taking on a new direction
But I have to say
I’ve been thinking about my own protection
It scares me to feel this way oh oh oh
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken
Love can be daunting and scary. Being vulnerable and getting hurt sucks. But there is no room for fear in love. I am learning to tear down the walls that I have built up from past heartache.
I don’t know everything about anything. Love is definitely something that still puzzles me. I am much closer to recognizing when love is present though. I see it in my parent’s marriage. I feel it in the love I share with my siblings and my friends, especially my best friend, my sister-from-another-mister, Laci.
I often joke that I am looking for the male version of Laci. We bonded very quickly when we met and this August will be 10 years that we’ve been friends soul sisters. She has a high standard for the way someone should love her and, in turn, has taught me how to demand the same.
1 Corinthians 13 says that:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I am a work in progress (#fixmejesus), and have not mastered putting that kind of love into practice daily. But I hope to get there. I have learned a lot about myself through my relationships, both platonic and romantic.
I have a much better sense of what love is and more importantly, what it is not. A la Oprah, this is what I know for sure:
- “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” – Maya Angelou
- Don’t fall in love with someone’s potential.
- Beware of people that take more than they give.
- Never settle for less than you deserve.
- Be with someone that tells you and makes you feel beautiful (or handsome).
- Cherish the person that you feel comfortable being totally naked with – your real self (and that way too).
- Fight fair (no low blows).
- Time is precious, so spend less of it arguing and more time laughing (and kissing and….).
- Avoid leading people on or wasting their time (and yours).
- Don’t chase people that don’t want you. Don’t try to make them stay or force them to see your worth. Choose people that choose you.
As of January, I have been making a conscious effort to fill my life with love. Everyday, I try to do something I love, and/or see someone I love. Life has become much sweeter and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So what’s love got to do with it? Everything.