Maybe I needed this weekend to recharge, because I woke up today with a clear mind full of important thoughts. Pregnancy hormones also probably most likely are playing a role in these thoughts.
(Isn't it great to be able to blame things on hormones? I'm taking full advantage of that for sure.)
Love has been on my mind a lot lately.
I grew up as an only child with incredibly loving parents. They showered me with so much love; of course, I didn't grasp that until much later on in life. I thought every other family was just like ours. Eating meals together, exploring new places together, even just talking to each other was normal for us. I didn't realize there were families were parents worked extra long hours and didn't get to see their kids' dance recitals or sports games. I didn't realize parents existed who were so caught up in themselves that they hardly noticed anything about their own child. I took it all for granted for years.
I remember sobbing and typing and email to them unable to understand how they could have done so much for me so selflessly for the past 18 years of my life. (They had been patiently waiting on this moment, I'm sure.) I felt like it was then that I woke up to what love truly meant. It was this love that actually helped me start my faith journey back towards Jesus. Their love, I would learn, is just a small sliver of what His love is. Talk about incredible.
Lots of people wonder how they know love between themselves and another person is real and made to last. When I met Landon and as things got serious, the love he showed me reflected the love my parents had always showed me so perfectly. That's how I knew it was real. He has always been so selfless and giving in our relationship...and isn't that exactly what love is about? Selflessness?
I think it is.
It's what I feel every time I'm in adoration or at mass: the perfect, selfless, self-giving love that Jesus gives all of us every single second of every single day. He's loved me since I was created and hasn't stopped a moment since. He's loved me when I've strayed away from my faith and what was right. He's loved me as I've struggled...very slowly...with learning how to be more selfless myself. He loves us expecting absolutely nothing in return. That is some real stuff right there.
I think in today's world, we're taught to be selfish, and I think that's where I messed up and where I'm trying to come back from. We're taught to do whatever it takes for our careers, for our bodies, to move there, to get that new apartment or house. We're told that we should always put ourselves first. But our reason for being here isn't for ourselves. It's to live in community with others and to share love, real self-giving love, with every single person. There's no room for selfishness in real love.
Now, I'm all for taking time for yourself to workout or go shopping or take some extra time getting ready in the morning. Taking care of yourself to a certain extent and loving yourself is important. However, it's putting those things above the people you're supposed to be loving that makes things dangerous.
My life has played out a whole lot differently than I imagined. I could have turned a blind eye to what I knew I had with Landon from an early point, graduated, packed my bags and moved to a big city or traveled overseas solo. Being shown such a real love at that point in my life was hard because it was a whole heck of a lot different than what others were being given. Saying yes to love and the uncertainty of a future that involved another person instead of just myself was a tough pill to swallow. It was then that I started to realize my life would no longer just be about me. It wasn't a decision I took lightly; it involved a lot of prayer, but in the end it was never a decision. I knew in my heart and soul that this was for me. I know Landon could say the same thing...he could've been living the bachelor life working wherever he pleased (and saving a lot more money. Us women are expensive creatures.).
Remember to love and be loved. Love is a completely mushy topic, I know, but I think it's the most important thing in this world. Call your mom. Say hi to someone you pass by at the store. Send an old friend a text. Thank God for the love you've experienced in your own life and tell him you're ready for more, for all that he has to give.
I get weekly pep talks/newsletters from Hannah Brencher, creator of More Love Letters (you need to check it out/sign up for her newsletter, by the way; it's incredible) and I wanted to share a paragraph from today that couldn't be more perfect:
"On the topic of love, it's a severely underestimated word. That word should have you crawling on your knees in a struggle to just get better at it. You should surround yourself with people who challenge you on that word. What better honor in this lifetime than to be surrounded by people who make you constantly think, 'My god, I want to learn how to love you well.'"
Good stuff, huh?
Here's to love, my friends.