To Everyone I’ve Loved

When it comes to romantic love I’ve probably been a complete failure in some book. I’ve had two soul mates, one fatal attraction, a first love and a high school sweetheart. Not all the same people of course. I’ve told acquantainces and friends that I am in love with about 10 different men at different points, some of whom I never even bothered to have a relationship with. I was the classic fruity flaky Pisces, forever looking for something beyond myself.
Or am I? I’ve noticed a tendency of friends of mine to say “I love you” in much greater proportions than when I was young. What does “I love you” mean in this context? I wouldn’t say it to a business associate (though even if I did, I’d say it would more likely cause a professional exchange of “well you’re great too”)
So this “I love you” thing. It’s now being used for BFFs, for friends you haven’t seen in awhile, for strangers. I have to wonder does it cheapen love or strengthen it that those three magic words are given out so freely? What do you think?
Earlier tonight we went to a friend’s house, or I should say a friend of my husband’s house. The friend’s mother was there, a woman who I had never met before but had heard a lot about. She said “I love you.” to me in broken English.
“I love you too.” I said back. What else could I say?
All you need is love…really?

What Love Is

I was recetly surfing Facebook when I found an interesting video clip about what all the Disney Princesses had given up in the name of love. It featured Elsa, one of the main characters in Disney’s Frozen, singing to live action versions of Princess Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. “I’m who I am, I don’t need a man.” She sings, after giving her quick trashing of their fairytale romances. It was a catchy tune, anyways.
I haven’t seen the Disney movie Frozen yet, which I gathered is an anti princess movie (about time). But despite my lack of knowledge in general about movies, I’ve seen every other Disney animated film. Most of them I’ve seen dozens, sometimes even hundreds of times. When I was younger I wanted to be a Disney animator and drew pictures of all the Princesses for friends in school. I know the lyrics of every song sang during the movies that came out during my childhood and adolescence, which included The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Pocahontas. The Disney princesses portrayed in these movies were supposed to be lovable, dynamic, independent heroines.
It’s not even the “I’m who I am, I don’t need a man” thing that caught my attention. That’s a common modern female sentiment, whether it’s due to feeling empowered or being jaded in love. Rather it’s the whole concept of what romantic love is in these films that needs an overhaul. Of course, in 75 minute long children’s movies all they really had time for was a budding romance with an implied happily ever after. There’s quite a few bridges to cross there in the real world.
What love is is your spouse helping you to the bathroom when you are too sick, or frail, or old to do it yourself. Love is your spouse helping you throw up in the toilet (whatever the reason). Love is seeing each other in times of trial, grief, and desperation and holding on tighter. Love is deciding to stay and listen to the story of why your man was out drinking all night with his friends instead of walking out the door in order to “show him who’s boss.”Love is definitely not trying to show him who’s boss, or thinking yourself as having more to offer to the relationship. You’re in this together. Taking down one side is going to drag down the whole.
It seems that what the Disney princesses call love could better be described as hormones in a budding romance. There’s nothing wrong with it, but boy have marketing departments noted our human tendency to part ways with large amounts of money during this stage of the courting process. Love is now about getting a huge diamond ring or earrings, or a massive flower bouquet for Valentine’s Day. Love is about spending at least the $20,000 every bridal magazine quotes as the average price of a wedding, because you can’t be average. Your love is better than average, so $30,000 it is. And now you can be princess for a day.
Your man is not God, but his love for you should be a reflection of God within him. And yours for him. I think when you choose a husband, you just choose the set of problems that you are willing to deal with for the rest of your life. He’s not perfect, nor is any other man. You’re not perfect either. But your love should go beyond that, and be bigger and broader than either or both of you put together. That’s what love is.
As a friend read at his wedding from the bible verse in Corinthians, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I sometimes think that men understand the concept better than women do, particularly if they get married. Marriage is a sacrifice for them, as childbirth is a sacrifice for women. This is why these things are often put together. Love is a quiet sacrifice.