Updated: Aug 14
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to write here. In keeping with the Valentine’s Day theme, I’ve been reflecting on how I might write about love. The only problem is, I’ve spent all my energy trying to think about the love we try to envision on Valentine’s Day, and in doing so, I invalidated my own feelings. Perhaps we have all dealt with this during the holidays.
As Valentine’s Day is a holiday that focuses on love, I took some time to reflect on Paul’s famous writings found in the thirteenth chapter of his letter to the Corinthians, the well-known “love is patient; love is kind” bit. Perhaps I had hoped that it would provide comfort or serve as a reminder for what I hope to emulate in my own life. But as I read, I became more aware of the heaviness in my chest. I struggle with seasonal depression this time of year, and it has clung a bit closer than usual lately. I am grateful for the support in my life that grants me space to be honest about it, but depression is the closest thing I can describe to an imaginary friend. I can tell people it exists, but it’s hard to explain something that no one else can see. I am writing this because a day that is meant to celebrate love should perhaps also be a day when we remember that whatever we’re feeling doesn’t need to be endured alone, and sometimes love is hard. The thirteenth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has served as an enduring reminder that faith, hope, and love abide. And the greatest of these is love. But how are we even to define love, especially on a day when it is meant to be celebrated for many of the qualities we struggle to live up to? Paul himself was no stranger to the complexities of love, his letters often included messages that essentially said, “Grace and peace to you, I was literally just here and now look at the mess you’ve made, you beloved children of God.” There’s part of me that wishes his famous writings about love in Corinthians had also made room for the love that makes a complete mess of things.
Love doubts, love gets scared, love says hurtful things. It doesn’t like the way you load the dishwasher. It struggles to communicate; love needs some alone time. Love has caregiver burnout. Love lives with chronic illness. It worries about passing on cycles of abuse. It is going through the motions but doesn’t feel joy anymore. It just heard back from the doctor, and it isn’t good. Love isn’t in love with you anymore and is so sorry. Love has rejection sensitive dysphoria and doesn’t have the spoons to explain ADHD. But love believes that you are worth the work that it takes to love you. Because you are work. Because we are work. Because love is work. And love endures all things.