When I think about the concept of love, I soften and wince at the same time.
As a typical female, tears start to flow almost immediately when my husband or my son present me with a card (before I even open it; just having it in my hand still in the envelope will do the trick!), flowers, or a gift. Any gesture of love and affection on their parts makes me melt just about as quickly as The Wicked Witch of the West. If I were still single, I'd be the easiest date in the world. Don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting anything about hopping in the sack on the first date. What I mean is, that any compliment, small gesture of affection, or thoughtful behavior immediately wins me over. It doesn't require much. I'm grateful for all of it, because it gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
But I have to admit, I often times feel that I SUCK at love. It's just so dang HARD. And I am actually really a very lazy person by nature, so working hard at something is oftentimes not necessarily my strong point. The effort required by all things that are hard work can be quite overwhelming for me. For example, in regards to this love thing, when I think of everything that love represents, I tend to think of the biblical definition of love itself. Think 1 Corinthians 13...love is patient, love is kind...you know what I'm talking about...but just in case we could all use a refresher here is the verse I'm referring to (despite the fact that we've all heard it umpteen million times at basically every single wedding we've ever attended in our lifetimes so far - I don't know about any of you other females out there, but my Italian and very devout Catholic grandmother would've had a stroke right then and there in the church had it not been a reading in in my wedding ceremony):
Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”
When I think about the kind of behavior required of love, it makes me want to curl up and take a nap. Because that's what I like to do when I am overwhelmed. I mean, think about it. The above verse suggests that love is pretty demanding. Patient? I'm not all that patient of a person. Kind? I guess I try to be, but I've inherited a little bit of nastiness from both the Italian and German sides of my family, and I've been known to not be afraid to show it. And the list of things I must admit to goes on and on... I'm envious, boastful, conceited, rude...yes, all of it. Perhaps you are thinking I'm not exactly the first person in this world whom you'd like to run into on the street. Actually, I'm not that bad, really, but when I compare myself to the above love standard, I think I fall a little short.
But then again, I guess that's what love is all about. I think of love as a spiritual pursuit, "spiritual" meaning something that transcends yourself and makes you work to be a purer self, a self closer to the one God intended you to be. And heck, that's not easy. As the saying goes, to err is human. And I err all the time. But I try. I try to love well, even if I realize that I may screw it up half of the time. But I know that each and every time I make the effort with even the littlest loving gesture, I'm breaking the boundaries of my limitations.
In fact, I've been reading a book about walking lately, walking as exercise. And something I've read recently reminded me of my efforts to be a loving person, namely that there is a misperception that walking with bigger, longer strides is more effective exercise. In fact the opposite is true: smaller steps and strides help the body burn more calories and bring about a higher level of fitness. So, it's really all about baby steps. And that's how I like to think of love, too. Because when I'm really worn out and am just tired of putting forth the effort, I may just have enough in me for a little baby step of loving behavior. And that little baby step of love always has positive results: both the giver and receiver end up happier and things get a little easier. When things get even just a little easier in my household, I'm not so overwhelmed and have more energy to be even more loving. And so the cycle of love continues.
Until I get really pissed off, that is, and crash and burn all over again.
Baby steps....baby steps...