Valentine’s Day is today, and I thought about doing a recipe round-up of great chocolate dessert ideas.
But it just didn’t seem that important to me right now.
(Not the chocolate, because that is ALWAYS important. I mean the recipes. I’m happy just stuffing any chocolate in my face at the moment.)
People spend the day wondering who they will spend it with, what they will receive, what they should give, why they are alone, why they are not alone, why they didn’t make dinner reservations a week ago and why all the stores are suddenly sold out of kids’ Valentine’s cards for school.
Valentine’s Day is about easy love. Butterflies in the stomach love. Love that involves giggles and blushing and kisses.
Love that includes fun sprinkles and heart shaped pancakes. Cards that your mom still sends you every year because it makes you smile. Bottles of champagne with the girls because who needs the boys anyway?
It’s about the love we give freely to those already close to us. It’s a fun excuse to celebrate love with those we already love, and I adore that. There should always be more reasons to show appreciation to those we love.
But today I don’t want to talk about holiday, card-buying, Hallmark inventing, chocolate eating love.
I want to talk about hard love.
Earth shaking love. Ground breaking love. Love that makes you sweat and work. The love that I believe can change the world.
A few years ago I was in the midst of some really complicated decision making. I don’t remember the circumstances exactly, but I do remember looking day after day for the right answer. I knew my decision and actions could impact many people, and I felt if I just searched a little more I would find the “correct” answer.
I wanted to be knowledgeable, yet trust my gut. I wanted to be firm, yet understanding. I went through every option and every possible alternative. It kept me up at night and it caused me days – maybe weeks – of anxiety. I just basically wanted to make sure that everyone involved was happy and continued to like me and felt I was doing the right thing and that everything would work out.
No big deal, right?
One morning I was laying in bed, going over and over all possibilities in my head, and I heard “Just love”.
I heard it again – “Just love”.
While I had been searching for the exact, single correct decision that would make everything fall into place, I kind of forgot that maybe there isn’t an easy answer. Maybe things are hard and complicated sometimes. Maybe everyone won’t always be happy.
But I can LOVE.
I can make a decision in love and know that I did the best I could. I can ignore the “rules” and appearances and being perceived as the smartest or strongest or whatever-ist and just make a move that would hopefully cause more love than pain, more peace than fighting.
Since then, I try to make my decisions every day based on love. I don’t mean I walk around with rose colored glasses or a constant smile or even that I like everyone.
I mean I try to chose LOVE.
When I get a rude email, I take a step back and ask myself if any good would come of me answering rudely back. I would say the answer is almost always no. When I don’t get return calls or texts from people, I remember everyone is busy and I just look forward to the next time we can talk. I don’t take things as personally. I don’t judge as quickly. Before making major decisions or saying something rash, I do the “love” check. If it doesn’t contribute some kind of love to the world or the person I’m conversing with, I won’t do it or say it or write it.
We have to practice. Practice with your co-workers, with the bus driver, with your students, with your kids, with your ex-spouse, with your neighbors, with the telemarketer. I mean, yes they interrupted you on your phone, but they are sitting somewhere in a cubicle doing a job that everyone hates just to bring home some money to possibly pay rent or their kids’ tuition. I figure I have it better than they do, so I might as well tell them “No thank you” rather than the nasty alternatives. And the biggest one? Practice on YOURSELF. You have to love yourself and believe you are just as wonderful and worthy of love as everyone else in this world.
I know this isn’t easy. Believe me, I absolutely know. Just this morning I was short with my husband about something silly, and now I’m sitting here writing a post about “love is the answer”. It’s a journey and a decision. It’s a work in progress. It’s letting go of ego sometimes and the desire to show we are right.
It’s not always chocolate or flowers or heart shaped pancakes.
Love is a muscle, and to strengthen it, we have to work it and use it every day.
I just know I don’t want to wish I had done things differently. I don’t want to make decisions and then spend days and weeks analyzing or regretting. I don’t want my daughter to hear any harsh or rude or impatient words come out of my mouth. The only way I can really teach her love is to show her love. That means she needs to see me loving everyone – my husband, my family, my friends, the coffee barista, my boss, her swim coach, the flight attendant, the athlete on tv giving a brash interview – EVERYONE. I don’t have to agree with them and I don’t have to emulate them, but I have to love them. Love begets love, and hate begets hate. The only possible way I know right now to make a difference in this world is to love.