by becomingbethany

I have been thinking a lot about love lately – what it looks like, feels like, lives like. There are so many ways we can both give and receive love, as well as withhold and reject love from others and even from ourselves. Three years ago I believed I had lost my one chance at a Great Love and that love was over for me. I was told I was unloved and unwanted and I believed it. But that could not have been further from the truth and when I look for love in my life today, I am overwhelmed by all the places I see it and know it. So in honor of Love and St. Valentine, I am sharing a few of my love notes publicly today. 

To my parents whose love for me I have never once doubted. Thank you for patiently and consistently reminding me that you love me simply because I am yours. For reiterating whenever I forget, that as tempted as I am to believe it, there is nothing I can do to make you love me more or less. Thank you for demonstrating over and over again what it looks like to love sacrificially without expectation of acknowledgement or reward. The depth of your love for others challenges and inspires me everyday. I love you both too.

To my grandparents who have cared for and supported me since before I can remember. You have encouraged my growth and education in every way you possibly could. I can only hope to grow up to be as generous and loving as you each are. I love you all and I feel incredibly blessed to get to have five grandparents!

To my sisters and brothers who have been my most faithful and loyal friends. I am incredibly grateful you are my tribe and that I can always call on you. I cherish that we can both laugh and cry together, that we can argue and also snuggle. I love that we have shared weird and wonderful experiences that very few other people can relate to – it makes our bond extra special. It is one of my deep joys to watch you become even more the amazing people you each are. I am inspired by the beautiful ways you each love – me, each other, your friends, your loves, and even strangers. I love each of you so deeply and I am so proud of who you all are that it hurts sometimes.

To my new niece/nephew. Little one, you are already teaching me so much about love because we all adore you and we haven’t even met you yet. You have done nothing and you are already so deeply loved just because you are.

To the friends who know how much I love words and gift them to me through texts, messages, Facebook comments, emails, handwritten notes, works of art, jewelry, and more. Each word you give is treasured and makes me feel so loved. Your encouragement has kept my heart warm on more than one cold day.

To the friends who know the surest way to my heart is through a good conversation and call me up or meet me for coffee to share their thoughts on the latest film, podcast, news article, or social media phenomenon. The friends who share their epiphanies on life and love and relationships. The friends who let me rant when I need to and also engage me in dialogue, all the while trying to find our way to Truth and Beauty. Thank you for believing in and loving the Logos with me. I often reflect on those conversations for years afterwards.

To old friends that I may not see often or interact with very much anymore, I am so thankful you have been part of my life. I hold our memories dear and still feel the love of the months or years we spent exploring the world together.

To new friends that I am just beginning to get to know. I’m grateful and excited to be part of your life – for as long or short a time as our paths may cross!

To my friends’ parents and my parents’ friends who have shown me parent love even when I am not really your daughter. Thank you for accepting me into your family’s life and pouring into my life. I am more and more grateful all the time that I had the privilege of experiencing love in other families in addition to my own. It helps the world look a little less scary and a little more loving.

To the friends I have lived with. Thank you for cooking me meals and eating the meals I cook. Thanks for letting me be alone when I need to and letting me dance around the living room when I need to and reminding me to sleep when I need to. Thank you for letting me share a home with you and letting me be myself at my most personal and exposed. I have been pretty lucky with roommates and I am grateful for each of you.

To the friends who remind me to laugh and play – I need you. I often forget to do this on my own. Thank you for making space for me to be silly and foolish. To the friends who can make me giggle until my stomach hurts, you help make life feel full to overflowing.

To my couple friends who have stayed my friends even after I was no longer half of a couple, thank you. You helped me feel like I had not lost my whole life when I lost a spouse. And watching you continue to love and support each other as partners helps me keep believing in committed romantic love. Let me know how I can continue to support your relationships even as a single person.

To my parent friends who have invited me into their children’s lives, it is an honor. Watching you become who you are as parents is beautiful and miraculous. Holding and reading books to and getting to know the little people you are loving and raising brings me so much hope and joy.

To the friends who have just sat with me in hard times while I cried knowing that sometimes there are no words or answers or solutions. The friends who have so gently held the pieces of my broken heart in their hands when I didn’t know if it could ever be put back together again. Thank you for showing me love at my weakest and ugliest and not looking away from my tear and snot streaked face. You have each taught me (and keep teaching me) so much about friendship love and I love you too.

My heart is full. It is full with each of you. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear ones!