Lessons in Love

What’s not to love about celebrating love? Flowers brighten a wintry room, hearts are the right kind of sappy, and–let’s be honest–I never require a special occasion to indulge in dessert.

Only I expect more–from myself, that is. I want to love year-round.

I want to be a better daughter, sister, friend, mom and wife. I want to love with abandon and with purpose. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “It isn’t enough to love; we must prove it.” A beautiful truth. But how?

Sometimes I get stuck between desire and action. I’m still learning after all.

So, on this Valentine’s day, I asked six women to discuss their favorite words on the subject. What follows is relatable and inspiring. I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Shared by Lauren Britt of Overton Park, KS

When I got married in September 2012, I–like most girls, I’m sure-expected the dating season to bleed into marriage. Only it would be better, because we would to live together. I expected dating on steroids. I was wrong.

Marriage is hard. It takes work. And I used to think women who said that were complainers.

In the midst of our difficult first year, I decided to change some things. I decided to wake up before my husband and make him breakfast before he left for work. And I wanted to always kiss him goodbye.

I never stopped loving him, but there were mornings I didn’t feel like being up at 5:30 making his over easy eggs and sweet potatoes. But I did, because of this quote. I knew that even when my feelings weren’t in it, I was going to serve my husband–after all, it’s much harder to have negative feelings toward someone that you are serving. I choose to love even when the feeling is absent.

Shared by Ashley Jones of Aventura, FL

This is poetic. This is true.

I’ve loved this song since I first heard it in the goofily delightful romantic comedy, The Pirate, starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. What struck me, first, was the poetry of it–“life is caviar” definitely stirs my poetic pot.

When I think of love, I think of luxury, and how love gives life a sort of gilded shine.

What has stayed with me, I think, is the idea that life can be caviar, and easily so. All a person needs is a bit of love to point things in a golden direction.

And I don’t mean romantic love. Sure, that’s certainly applicable, but a “gaze in my direction” could come from God, family, friends, the writerly spirit who makes way for my poetry, or even a little love from an unexpected place–the person who lets you skip them in line at the grocery store, the stranger who smiles back, the you looking back in the mirror who likes what she sees.

Every day can be caviar and I’m glad about that.

Shared by Jordan Rees of Willimantic, CT

I know, I know, movie quotes are cheesy … and this one was said by a character who subsequently threw herself out of a window. It’s not a particularly romantic movie.

Regardless, this quote is everything to me. I have a tattoo of a train behind my ear as a reminder of this quote.

You see, the week between Christmas of 2011 and the New Year, my husband and I sat down to make a plan, like “they” all say we should. We decided to buy a motorcycle. I decided to give in to the pull of graduate school. That night was so exciting, filled with discussions about where we would go, what we would do, what our lives would be like.

As time went on, those questions took on a different temper: Where WILL we go? What WILL we do? What WILL our lives be like?

These questions filled the subsequent two years. One afternoon, I was undone under the weight of it all. My dear quoted some approximation of the above statement. Cheesy? Possibly. True? Always. It doesn’t matter where we go or how we arrive, because we will be together.

Shared by Olivia Ard of Columbiana, AL

I came across this quote for the first time a few years ago, when I had just gotten engaged. At the time, it seemed so beautiful, hopelessly romantic. It conjured images of days filled with endless joy and good feelings all around. Truthfully, it seemed almost too cliche for my favorite author, a man whose words are usually deeper than this.

And then I got married. I realized that perhaps this quotation was profound after all.

The truth about being in love is this: it’s easy in the beginning. As time goes on, there are days when staying in love is not something you feel like doing. There are days when work is rough, dishes are piled up and you can’t find clean underwear–the last thing you want to do is engage in small talk, but you do it anyway.

You stay in love because you made a decision that out of it you would not go. It may sound unromantic, but love is a choice to be made–not something decided by destiny or fate. If you ask me, that only makes me want to stay in love more than ever.

Shared by Madison Niven of Helena, AL

Indifference is truly more terrifying than hate. Indifference is a lack of emotion, a lack of care.

Many times in my life, I tried to act indifferent toward a situation. I would push it under the rug as far as it would go and, honestly, that was hard. It’s hard trying to not feel an emotion toward something I really care about.

Thankfully, other people have shown me my own lack of love. My eyes were opened to my indifference for kids–my own age and younger–with nothing to eat. It shocked me how little I actually felt for kids in third-world countries. Until I learned that I had the power to do something.

I think the reason indifference starts is because people believe like they can’t do anything to change a situation. The truth is, when you allow yourself to feel something as powerful as love toward someone–anyone!–there is nothing you can’t do.

Shared by Amanda Wortham of Alabaster, AL

Love is a funny thing, rumored to have lifted its targets above the common fray of humanity in blissful wonder and, simultaneously, dashed all hopes of those who discover that their romantic impulses are unrequited.

If we can say anything about our cultural vision of love, it is that love is a fickle thing, indeed. Yet my own experience in loving and being loved is that it is the very opposite of fickleness that makes love so necessary for living. It is the calm faithfulness, the stalwart steadfastness of those who love that becomes most precious as life tries to shove its way into the fragments of peace we manage to grasp.

Contrary to the rowdy, mercurial love of youth, ee cummings asserts that true love is often silent, but still speaking, so free from anxiety that hope turns to clear and pure ambition, so formidable that force becomes weakness, and everlasting, from end to end.

In short, love is, as 1 John shares, God. And God is love. To love is to honor His presence, His essence, His being.

**What is your favorite quote on love? How do you apply it in your relationships, romantic or otherwise?

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