As Valentine's Day is approaching, have you asked yourself what is love? What is real love?
Is it a box of chocolates, a romantic dinner, is it a bouquet of flowers, is it an expensive gift, is it a scene of rose petals laying on the bed or on the floor with lit candles, is it a proposal in a helicopter, under the sea, or on top of a mountain? Is love a story of fantasy like Hollywood tells us it is? Have we been brainwashed to think love is just a onetime explosion that dissipates over time?
I think love, real love, is much simpler than that, yet much more powerful.
Love is an everyday practice, an everyday choice, and it is not extravagant, nor it is a big show. Love is very simple, gentle and tender, but really powerful because it is very touching. Real love is like lighting a candle in someone's heart.
Love is being there in good and bad times, uplifting others, saying a kind word, touching someone's hand, or giving someone a hug when they need it. Love is saying I am here for you, you are not alone. Love is picking up your phone to talk to someone who feels lonely. Love is being a listening ear. Love is visiting the vulnerable, the frail, the weak and giving them words of hope. Love is helping the neighbor, giving a smile even when you don't feel like it.
Love is feeding the hungry (in whatever context of hunger there is), tending to the sick (in whatever context of illness or sickness there is), and tending to the poor (in heart and in the worldly context). Love is mentoring, love is counseling. Love is accepting others even when we don't like them.
To choose to love is to choose to forgive (others and ourselves), and to practice compassion and patience towards others and towards ourselves. Choosing to love is to receive the "real love" from others, and from God, so we can heal our wounds and learn to love ourselves.
Choosing to love is choosing to confront ourselves with our emptiness and to ask ourselves the hard questions we have been running away from all our lives: Why do I fill the voids of my heart with addiction (in whatever forms these occur), with luxury, with attention, fame, popularity, recognition, money, material goods, worldly and expensive gifts, and acceptance?
Maybe because we don’t know what real love is, maybe because we did not receive real love when growing up such as abandonment, rejection, lack of affection, indifference, abuse, control, poverty, bullying, being compared to others, humiliated, or having our dignity being dismissed or diminished. Therefore, we have been filling the voids of our hearts with the wrong things.
Maybe it is time to ask, why do I feel so empty despite being successful, and having more of this and more of that. Maybe it is because we are seeking in the wrong place. Choosing to love is to confront ourselves to face our wounds so we are able to clean them, and so we are able to heal. When we heal our wounds, we are able to learn to love and receive and experience the real love.
Real love is a gift for you and for others, but it is a gift within, deep in the soul of the heart, not an explicit gift that takes material form or that fills our voids temporarily. When you chose to love, others receive warmth, consolation, guidance, and hope. When you choose to love, you receive the gift of joy and healing of the heart, even in times of suffering.
We need to recalibrate ourselves, reset our brains, and step back and reflect on what real love is. It might be wise to fill our hearts with curiosity instead, to seek and find the treasure of real love.
Have a Happy Valentine's Day today, tomorrow, and every day, and may you receive the blessing of giving, receiving, and experiencing real love.