From the time we are born, we hear the word “love” multiple times a day. I am positive my mom and dad told me every time they picked me up or laid me down and multiple times in between: “I love you.” I am positive my brother told me on a daily basis when I was too young to talk. It is the purest type of love, the love of a mother or father or daughter or son. We truly and deeply love the tiny being in our hands or the large being holding and nourishing our tiny body.
Then we grow up. And we learn impure love. We learn that we “love” everything. I loved the Backstreet Boys, but then I loved NSYNC. I loved the color pink then purple then blue then green and pink again. I loved my doll Miss Patsy and I loved my dog Jake. I loved my room, and I loved my favorite flower halter dress I wore every time I could when I was 7. I loved my dolls. I loved my brother, and I loved chocolate milk. I loved Cinderella. I loved everything at one point in time from the ages of 3 to even now. We all did. We throw around that term like its any other word.
But its all in fun, then.
When we reach our teen years, the word love takes on a whole new definition. We love all our girl friends that we talk so viciously about when they’re not around.
Boys no longer have cooties, and we are constantly dreaming of the day we wear the white dress and walk down the aisle with the man who taught us what love is. But somehow, we lose sight of what our mothers and fathers taught us of love.
Love becomes a verb for a really really big crush. We go on that first date with the scrawny young boy who has his mom drive us to the movies. He sneaks a peck on the cheek as we say goodnight. And then, all of a sudden, the meaning of love isn’t the same. This new feeling MUST be what love really is, right? We “date” the guy for a few weeks and that same phrase my mom and dad used to repeat every single time they saw me becomes the way we say goodnight to our “boyfriend.” We start out texting “ily” because spelling it out in a text is too attached. And then we move into actually saying it. And then, we break up. And we “hate” them. We don’t love them anymore. It’s like the relationship never existed and we never uttered those three words…but we did.
And, all of a sudden, those three words mean
Then everything gets serious in high school right? We all search for that high school romance that will make our love stories remarkable. We want to have a high school sweetheart. But we’re so young. We feel like we have to “fall in love.” We watch Nicholas Sparks movies, we listen to Taylor Swift’s songs, and it just makes sense that in those 4 years where so much is changing we must find that life partner that is going to define love.
And throughout high school we find him about 8 different times. And we utter that phrase in each relationship only to break the promise it is supposed to hold. We try to tell our parents that we know what love is and we are old enough to love. That they were our age when they met each other.
But they didn’t grow up in the world we did.
A world where it is absolutely normal to have two families. A world where our dad’s love is not love, its nonexistent. A world where a mother’s love is a pure hatred for the father. A world where love is a one-night stand. And marrying a complete stranger is a “bad mistake.”
We watch “reality” TV shows where couple after couple break up because they simply no longer “love” each other. They fall out of love as quickly as they fell “in love.” We watch as marriage after marriage falls apart because those three little words are no longer “enough.”
We have lost sight of that love our mothers and fathers taught us when we were too young to even coo back at them. We have lost sight of a love that means something more than uttering words back and forth. We’ve lost sight of a love that is more than physical. We have lost sight of a love that can bear and endure all things. We have lost sight of a love that is so pure and so perfect that it can bring joyous tears to a father’s eyes as he gives his daughter away.
Why have we lost sight of this love? Because we are growing up too fast. We are in a world where everything is on a drug that speeds time up, but the same drug damages our brain that we don’t mature until later. Students go to their freshman year of college as juniors and have their majors picked from freshman year of high school. We rush into things. We take that first waitress job because we act on impulse and then cry to our mom on the phone after every shift, because we are too young. We are too young to grow up so fast.
We shouldn’t be “loving” in middle school and high school. We should be dating with groups of friends and going to prom with our best guy friend and dancing the night away with no pressure. We should be graduating and going to college without the burden of a relationship back home. We shouldn’t be picking our colleges based on a “high school love.” But we are, because we have redefined love.
We have redefined love as if we CAN redefine it.
BUT WE CAN’T.
We didn’t create love and we cannot redefine it.
Love is not love if it does not last. You cannot fall out of love. And I’m not going all One Tree Hill on you. We have lost sight of a love that is so pure, so perfect, and so joyous that we settle for a mediocre, dull, and temporary feeling that is not love at all.
We all like to refer to 1 Corinthians 12:4-7:
“Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; does not provoke; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrightousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things, endures all things.”
But we never go on to read the next three words:
“Love never ends.”
You see, we like to say we want a love like the Bible describes. But we don’t use the Bible’s definition to understand love. That’s our mistake. We use the world’s.
I am young and I am dumb. I have learned so little when there is so much to learn. But I have learned one thing from my my mom and dad and that’s pure love. I’ve learned that fights don’t last through the night and that you do absolutely anything to keep that love. That you hold onto it until your knuckles turn white and start bleeding because there is absolutely nothing like it. Its a love that after dad has been away in Alaska for a month that brings tears to your eyes at the mere sight of his luggage. It’s a love that endures two children, loss of grandparents, sickness. Endures travel and possible loss of work. Its a love that loves every single wrinkle, gray hair, and even pound. It’s a love that delights in smiles. It’s a love that endures stubbornness, oh so much stubbornness. And a love that still exists after 25 years. Its a love that endures and hopes and continues to love. Its a love that loves imperfections. Its a love that takes two imperfect young adults and makes one perfect binding union that God blesses every single day.
I have become so frustrated with today’s version of love. I luckily was not boy-crazy in my teens. But I’ve been there on that first date with butterflies in your stomach that nearly makes you vomit (okay that doesn’t sound right but you get it). I’ve been in a total of one serious relationship. And been on dates with a grand total of three guys. I don’t have much experience in the field of dating…
But I have a lot of experience in love, thanks to my family.
I’m still a little girl that is young and stupid and still learning. But I have been exposed to a love that has put a hunger in my heart. A hunger that will not subside until one day my little girl can say the same thing about me and her dad.
So, to the teenagers of the world that this blog reaches, to my cousins that are still babies to me, to my brother even, and especially to my future children:
Do not settle for the world’s love. Don’t give away those words like its candy. Keep those three words in your heart until you find a pure love. The pure love. Do not stop until you have a love like that. And realize that you do not have to settle because you DESERVE that love. You deserve every single ounce of it. And you deserve to be like my both of my grandparents: 50 plus years of laughter and tears and joy and marriage.
Because love still exists. And you deserve something more than a crush.