Probably as many words as there are stars in the universe have been poured out in the name of love. What helpful observation could anyone possibly offer on such an exhaustively addressed topic?
On this St. Valentine’s Day that is dedicated to honouring the presence of love, I have four small offerings:
Love means I want to know who you are.
I want to pay attention to you. I want to hear you. I want to truly see the person you are and to support you in being the person you were created to be. I want you to feel fully able to show up in our relationship as you are.
I do not want you to conform to my image of who you think I think you ought to be. I do not want you to try to fulfill my wishes and desires. I do not ever want you to pretend or lie in an attempt to make yourself into someone other than the person you know yourself to be.
You do not exist to satisfy my expectations, needs, wants, demands, or desires.
I want our relationship to be a spacious place in which you are able to explore, investigate and experiment. I want us to be open, flexible, and adventurous so that we may support one another in discovering more fully the people we are most deeply called to be. The primary purpose of our relationship is that our love might be an environment in which we are encouraged to become more fully the people were were created to be.
I understand there is a price to pay if our relationship is going to be one in which you feel able to be truly the person you are. I must choose to enter your world with empathy and understanding, just as I hope you will choose to enter the reality of my world.
I will seek to listen deeply to you and to trust the authenticity of your experience. I will honour the person you are, not seek to remake you in an image I may have of who I feel you ought to be for me.
Love is always honest.
Love means you are free to bring all of who you are into our relationship. There are no forbidden feelings, no thoughts that cannot be shared, no areas of life that must be avoided or denied. I want all of you to be free to show up in our relationship. I do not want you to feel you must hold back out of some misguided desire to make sure I feel comfortable. I do not ever want you to hide.
I want us to take responsibility for our feelings. I do not want to fall prey to the illusion that my feelings are your fault. Love is only possible when two people take full responsibility for their own inner lives and live together with respect and reverence for the choices the other person makes.
Love bears the inevitable pain of being in relationship.
I know there will be times when we will make choices or say things that are painful. But love understands that the pain I cause is always my misguided attempt to avoid or navigate my own pain. I choose to acknowledge my pain rather than unconsciously or dishonestly project it on to you as if my pain were your fault.
Pain is not the enemy of love. Pain is one of the tools love uses to enable us to experience our vulnerability and to connect with that tenderness and gentleness that is our true nature.
When we encounter pain, I do not want us to shut down and become smaller people. I want us to allow the inevitable pain of being in relationship to open us more deeply to one another and to help us become more compassionate and kind.
I know that I will fail in all these grand intentions over and over. I will let you down; I will fail to live up to my great vision of love.
So, my last small offering is that,
Love never gives up.
In the face of my failings, love commits to getting up and trying again. At the heart of love is the generosity of forgiveness. I will not hold against you the hurts we experience together. I will not bear resentment, bitterness, or anger. Love calls me always to start over determined that there is nothing too great for love to bear.
Love is not just something I do; it is also the power that enables the doing. So, I choose to surrender to the power of love, knowing that this is the only path towards true human relationship and the only hope for the struggling human community in which we live.