It is a topic that has inspired some of the most majestic paintings, motivated the most breathtaking pieces of literature, and moved many a composer to create ballads which could bring tears to your eyes. It persuades human beings to go above and beyond what they would have thought they were capable of. And it is spelled with only four letters: l-o-v-e. It is a beautiful thing really, yet often really misunderstood.
Our view of love as a society is quite funny. We blame and credit love for so many decisions—both good and bad. It makes you wonder how something so wonderful and powerfully positive could cause so much confusion and heartbreak. To be loved is one of the most amazing feelings in the world, but to have your love betrayed is one of the most devastating. How could love be involved in so much happiness and so much pain? Could it be because so many people do not truly understand what love is and what it demands?
Hartley Coleridge penned a poem which asked, “Is love a fancy or a feeling?” He then answered his own question with a simple, “no.” I would have to agree. Unlike our society would have you believe, love is not a whim or a magical moment where everything feels just right. Sure, those moments where your heart flutters and you feel you could burst with excitement is all part of the God ordained experience. But when the flutter and feeling s are not there anymore, love still is. Love, at its core, is not an emotion. Love is a choice.
Love is a decision to care for, be loyal to, support, and trust another human being when it’s easy and when it’s difficult. Whether it is a boyfriend/girlfriend, a close friend, or a family member, love is a commitment. Love is a promise. Since love is so romanticized in media, many people base their decisions off of the glitz and glamour that love brings, but when the fireworks fade, so does their “love.”
Marriages end in divorce, couples break up, friendships end, and relationships with family members become estranged. But why? It’s because we define love by how we feel, and what our environment dictates. But it was never meant to be that way.
I have been guilty of that kind of thinking too. Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Maybe she wasn’t a true friend anyways if it requires this much work. Maybe I can’t trust him since he let me down. But that’s no way to live. At some point, you have to make the choice, even the tough choice. I will love my family, quirks and all. I will love my friend, although we don’t always agree. I will love my spouse, for better or worse. I will love with no ulterior motives, and I will love fully aware of all it requires. It requires commitment. It requires character.
This Valentine’s Day, allow yourself to love. Show that love to your friends and your family. And when Valentine’s Day ends, the chocolate is eaten, the teddy bears are put away, the cards are stored in a box, and the feelings and flutters wane, make the choice to keep loving.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken…
Shenae is a frequent contributor to InsideOut and serves as editor of apostolicgirl.com. She is from Tallahassee, Florida, where her dad is her pastor. She is also a graduate of Gateway College and is currently serving an internship in Ohio. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.