Love is often depicted as a flowery, happy emotion. Characters in movies fall into it with a single glance and are willing to give up all other commitments to follow its call. People break off relationships because the feelings are gone. Even some of the symbols of love (hearts, pink, flowers, etc.) seem a bit frivolous.
There is a sweet and joyous side to love. As a romantic, I am prone to see the world that way at times. There is nothing wrong with the tingling emotions when holding someone’s hand or making valentines for a special person. All of this is one important aspect of love.
However, there is more than just that. Love is also a choice, not just an emotion. We have to make the decision to care for others even when we are annoyed or respect others even when we disagree. These decisions are difficult and can hurt. Still, they show true love – more so than the fabled true love’s kiss from Snow White.
There are many instances in our lives when this choice comes into play. One for me is at work. Some customers are rude or coworkers are uncaring. Instead of lashing out, I must be strong to care for myself while still treating them with patience, empathy, and respect. Sometimes that might mean walking away and not responding to a cruel comment. Other times, I might need to respond with kindness instead of bitterness.
Doing this is difficult. Choosing to rely on pure emotion (such as frustration or pride) would be easier. Yet, as one coworker told me yesterday, we must make the choice to treat others kindly. That is not a sign of weakness but of strength.
The next time that you discover that loving is difficult, try to remind yourself that love is not always easy. It can hurt. However, in the end, loving others will bring you more peace and joy than responding with sourness or only thinking of yourself.