Every once in a while I am reminded of the need to clarify something that most of us seem to forget.
Love is not a feeling.
I am far from the only person who's going to say it. I'm guessing you've heard it before. But I'm also betting that like me, and like everyone, you've sometimes forgotten this very thing.
Love feels good, but real love is so much more than any feeling. Real love is a choice. Real love is action.
Love as action seems like a hard concept in a world where effort has become increasingly low-key. We use technology to minimize hard work as much as possible. Not only to save time and money, but to save on thinking too.
We have apps and devices to remember virtually everything so we don't have to do it ourselves. We forget our own phone numbers. Facebook reminds us of our loved ones' birthdays.
There's an app to track virtually everything, except love. And an app can't teach us how to love. Maybe that's why so many of us seem to suck at actually loving.
We want the best results with minimal effort, but that's not love.
Honestly, good love is difficult for modern people. It doesn't save us from boredom or uncomfortable situations. There's no demo, no beta version, and no easy mode.
Even when we use a mobile app to look for love, it's only a matter of time before we're reminded that real love takes the kind of effort most of us shy away from on a daily basis.
Actual love is messy.
When I say messy, I mean it's not always clear what's yours or what's mine. Our emotions and perceptions get in the way and tend to muck things up.
It's all so very human and imperfect.
We make mistakes. We apologize and forgive. We fall into negative patterns if we're not careful. Whoever said love was easy probably had a bad memory, because it's the cleanup that makes it all so hard.
Love makes an effort.
I can't know you on a deeper level if you won't let me in. Of course, the reverse is also true. We have to make an effort to bend and be vulnerable with each other.
We have to make an effort to trust and even hope for the best.
Because love is action, love is the thing that carries us to do the things and make the effort even when the good feelings aren't there.
"Not feeling it" is real, but "not feeling it" is also natural for anything we do. If that's all we go by, then we'll be constantly tossed about and live at the mercy of our ever-changing whims.
Loves shares real burdens.
I think one of the hardest things for people to understand about love is the fact that we can't turn off the hard stuff. Sure, we can tune out and ignore one another's burdens but that clearly isn't love.
One of the very best and most difficult parts of honest love is that we allow ourselves to sit in discomfort when someone we love needs us to be there. And it's much easier said than done.
It's pretty damn difficult to sit there patiently in painful silence when you lack the perfect words to say. It's hard to open up and tell somebody you're there for them when you know you can't fix their problems and you're not sure that your efforts will even be well-received.
Love comes with zero guarantees.
There's no formula for undying love. Nobody can make a lover stay or even choose health within their relationship. We might give our all and still feel that we somehow came up short.
We might very well miss the mark and hope to be graciously forgiven.
But there is nothing about love that says it will last forever. If anything, we know that simply signing up for love means that (at some point) there will be loss.
And we have to actively accept that trade-off every day that we give and receive love. We have to choose to try anyway.
It isn't always easy, but when it's healthy love, I'm sure it's worth it.
Quit looking at love as some fleeting feeling.
Don't get caught up in the idea that love feels good all the time. Or that it requires nothing from you. The truth is that good love takes everything.
Your strength, your faith, your hope, and even your comfort all need to be given up at some point if you're serious about your love. But hopefully, your love will be serious about you too.
And here's hoping you'll love to make the leap... in the long run.