Dedicated to the many people in my life who have taught me about love.
The whirlwind romance has settled down and the knight in shining Armour has dismounted and it turns out he isn’t quite as tall as she thought nor as dashing. In fact, life has slowed down to the business of day to day living. What happened? How does she keep on loving a toad that was perceived as a soul mate?
Lifetime relationships aren’t made of the stuff of fairy tales but of choices. Love is a choice that comes from two individuals that are happy within themselves but wish to create something more.
Love really is a choice to go the whole way “til death do us part.” Some of the building blocks are unconditional love, realistic expectations, clear boundaries and a willingness to bear burdens in the tough times. But, it all starts with being best friends.
This is a friendship built on something bigger than both of us anchored in a common belief that God works in and through the self to pour love out one for the other. It is a love without conditions. It is not built on a barter system – I’ll love you if, nor is it used like an emotional stick to get one’s own way. I love because I have been given love to give, and I choose to give it freely.
A soul mate, husband, toad or whatever you wish to term that special someone is a person we enjoy doing things we have in common with, but the relationship also gives breathing room and encouragement to pursue individual passions, mine happens to be writing, his is cars and car shows.
Realistic expectations are part of this unconditional way of being. It means I accept you just the way you are and realize I have no control over you. If you chose to change or I chose to change it is because the individual initiates it for the improvement of self and in turn the improvement filters out into the surrounding world. Like my friend always says with her open palm patting her chest, “my stuff”, and then with an outstretched arm open palm towards me, “your stuff.
From this gift of boundaries I have learned that I cannot change anyone else but I can take care of my own stuff, my areas that need some work; and as I change for the better so does my relationship. Clear boundaries tell me what I am and what I am not responsible for. I am not responsible to fix my partner, nor fix everything in their life. Fixing is a disservice, a way of stopping our own pain or buying into the illusion of control. If I give unasked for help I may be robbing them of a valuable life lesson that they need, or I may in fact be part of the problem covering up something that, if I loved enough, means stepping back to allow a life lesson; because the only way up sometimes is down. This aspect of love is different than being a burden bearer.
A burden bearer is an action of choice that comes out of love. It is carrying a partner, a best friend off the battlefield of life when they cannot get off on their own because of a fatal wound. It is sitting beside them in the hospital tent as an encourager while they do their own healing in order to become whole and healthy again. It is sitting helplessly by when all you have to give is your presence, but your presence is enough.
So when the knight steps off his horse to become who he really is without his Armour or your princess comes down from her tower and her hair is not as long and shining as you once believed, it is then that loves journey begins and the choice becomes that of two people as individuals who wish to become more than themselves yet retain who they really are standing on the rock of a higher power.
Now that’s love. [Originally published at Life as a Human e-zine]