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The Language of Love

J'taime. Te amo. Is breá liom tú. Ti amo. Ich liebe dich. Jag älskar dig. Σε αγαπώ אני אוהב אותך איך האב דיר ליב دوستت دارم أحبك Я люблю вас Волим те わたしは、あなたを愛しています 我爱你 Eu te amo. Jeg elsker deg. Maite zaitut. Te iubesc. Nakupenda. Mwen renmen ou. Tha gaol agam ort. Aku cinta kamu. Ech hunn dech gär. Minä rakastan sinua. Ľúbim ťa. Aroha ahau ki a koe. Aloha wau iā 'oe. I guess it's true what Mr. Rogers said. "There are many ways to say 'I love you.'" So many wonderful languages out there all over the world that express the deepest emotions we've always dreamed of, never imagined we'd hear, and sometimes are afraid to express in the simplest of ways. I love you. So simple, yet eloquent and powerful. And yet, it can be often misused in the tiniest and grandest of ways. How do you say "I love you" to someone, and not just simply through words, presents, or events? There's an encyclopedia of answers out there, but the best answer I give you for this question is this.

"I love you" is more than just phrase we hear repeatedly from others in passing. It's a testament of adoration, courage, selflessness, redemption, compassion, magnificence, helpfulness, desire, sincerity, kindness, and passion. These three words carry so much weight in our lives, whether we spend our time with our family, friends, significant others, or anyone we know. It shows how much joy and gratitude an individual has put into their lives, and it often changes the other person for the better. We can't imagine our lives being any better or special without that person involved in every piece of the memories, events, and observations of our lives because of how much we love them. And yet, "I love you" is also thrown around like it's of trivial importance. As if love is an afterthought, and more important things matter. Like sex. Like money. Like material things. Like a big house. Like a successful career. Like perfection. And so much more. It's as if the idea of love is more of an afterthought than the central theme to a relationship, and we put other ideas at the forefront of relationships. But that's simply not the case. To me, love shouldn't be second in a relationship. Nor should it be all about the sex, money, material things, a long-lasting career, perfection, or any of the things we crave in a relationship. Love should, and always be, the first and last thought of a relationship. Without it, things fall apart and many things no longer make sense. We all need love, and it's an important piece of our lives that we cannot live without. Now, back to the question at hand. How do you say "I love you" to someone you care about, and not always with material objects, events, or even words alone? Before we get to that, I can share with you the many ideas on how NOT to say "I love you" to someone, and the list is long and varied. But it's still very important. Love is NOT... *Impatience *Bitterness *Hatred *Regret *Denial *Vulgarity *Selfishness *An annoyance *Hopelessness *Vanity *Stupidity *Fear *Jealousy *Medieval *A weakness *Proving to the other that they're right *Not listening to each other *Dominance over the other *Taking advantage of other's kindness and compassion *Spending money frivolously on material possessions to please the other *Hindering another's growth *Holding others back for the sake of comfort and safety *Yelling and screaming *Physical, mental, and emotional abuse *Being walked all over *Seeing growth and evolving as a threat *Treating people as objects and possessions *One night stands *Humiliating them on social media *A childish fantasy *Staying rooted in one spot *Being oblivious to other's needs around you *Closed-mindedness *Outward appearances mattering to themselves and others *Buying another's affections with money *Enslavement *Putting your career before the things that matter in life *Inaction *Sexist *Racist *Homophobic *Xenophobic *Finds fault with others *Delusional *Critical *Traumatic *Humiliating *Servitude *Pompous *Ridiculous *All about sex *Belligerent *Ostracizing others *Bullying others *Harassment *Uncaring *Disagreeable *Malicious *Mean spirited *Disgusting *All about YOU

And so much more. Remember the story of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen? (Not Frozen, but the original fairy tale.) Kai was pierced by one of the shards of a magical, twisted mirror, that only saw the ugliness of the world instead of the beauty, and therefore, caused his heart to be hardened and frozen. We tend to only see what love should be instead of what it actually is, and many times, we place the ugliness of the world in the form of love. And in many ways, the things that love isn't is turned into a form of controlling, gaining sympathy, putting guilt on someone, making fun of, conned into, and even abuse. Love shouldn't have to be used in this way, but sadly, it is in so many broken relationships, not just romantic ones. Families, friends, co-workers, and so many other relationships are like this, and it's heartbreaking to see how much mental and emotional damage it does on the individual who is inflicted with so much pain. And here's another thing that gets under my skin about love. There's an idea that if you buy material things in order to please the significant other, you are basically purchasing that individual as if love is a thing. Haven't you heard of the phrases and song titles "Can't Buy Me Love" or "Love Don't Cost A Thing"? You should not have to think that a love has to be bought in order to impress your friends or assert your dominance. Nobody is a prize to be won. We are all PEOPLE, and we should each be treated like have worth, feelings, wants, needs, and rights that should be expressed in every single relationship known to earth. And here's something else that may sound radical, but there's truth to it no matter how you look at it. Love is NOT, I repeat, NOT about the sex! Don't get me wrong, sex is important in a relationship, but it shouldn't be the only thing that is driving the romance to new heights. What about getting to know someone through conversations? What about trips to the movies, a play, ice skating, going to the beach, or however you want to enjoy your dates and outings? What about meeting the friends and family of your gal or fella and getting to know them? What about being there for each other no matter what life throws at the both of you? Doesn't these things matter just much as much as sex? I'll let you in on a little secret - the only romance novels I read are the clean ones, with no explicit sex scenes involved. The heat, flirting, hugging, and kissing is there, but none of the sex. And I like it that way. I prefer stories that involve people getting to know each other through their outings, conversations, events, and more. Sex comes later, which in many cases, is after marriage. (No, I won't blast you with what I've been taught from my religious upbringing. Now is not the time and place.) Sex, in my mind, is only good if you truly know and understand each other, and you accept each other for who you are, flaws and all. If you can't get over the pet peeves, out-in-the-open faults and misgivings, and secrets plaguing the mind and heart, the sex is probably not going to be worth it in the long run. Now do you see why sex is not the only thing that matters in a relationship? And how love DOES matter even more than that and the material things? Love should never be an afterthought in any relationship, not now, not ever. The million dollar question is one that is probably asked the most often. What IS love? Again, there could be an entire encyclopedia on what love is, but I have some ideas on what it could be. Some of it is obvious, but others are more subtle and just as important. Love is... *Putting someone else's needs before yours (see what did there?) *Agreeing to disagree and not forcing another to agree with your opinions *Washing the dishes without being asked to do so *Helping out with the laundry, folding, and even ironing of clothes *Handmade arts and crafts using markers, crayons, uncooked pasta, and more *Cooking your favorite meal after a rough day (or even doing takeout from your favorite restaurant after a rough day) *Snuggling together on a cold winter's night *Watching a feel-good movie (or even belly laugh movie) *Going for a stroll around your neighborhood, downtown, or even on the beach *Looking at the stars and the moon at night *Texting affirmations to each other *A phone call with someone you haven't seen or heard from in a long time *Going to a game and rooting on your favorite team, or even #1 player if they're playing *Doing absolutely nothing *Baking bread, muffins, cupcakes, and cookies (or whatever you crave!) *Walking outside during or after a snowfall *Listening to music or going to a concert *Hugging each other tightly *Kisses as you start and end your day *Holding hands in support of a major decision *Standing by your loved ones as they undertake a relocation or new job away from what they've ever known *Sharing jokes and anecdotes with each other *Receiving a postcard or snail mail from someone you know *Curling up with your pets *Dancing out in the rain *Singing at the top of your lungs without a care in the world *Receiving a long overdue or unexpected package *Running into a friend while doing your errands *A long hot shower or bath with candles lit all around you *Painting a picture *Taking the perfect picture on your excursions or everyday constitutionals *Receiving or picking up flowers from your florist or a friend *Doing the grocery shopping for someone when they're too busy *Indulging in your cravings for an hour, a day, or however long you want to *Coming home to the smell of freshly baked homemade cookies *A wet kiss from your dog *A visit to a new town on a road trip *Trying new foods at a restaurant or pit stop off the beaten path *Holding your newborn baby for the very first time *Your significant other rubbing your back as you are throwing up *Making chicken noodle soup to help fight a cold *Hot tea in the cooler months *Sitting down at home with a blazing fire in your fireplace *Going camping miles away from home and technology *Turning off your phone for the day *A night at the theatre or opera *Opening presents on Christmas morning or on your birthday *Open-mindedness to new ideas, visions, and thoughts *Acceptance and treating people as people, no more, no less *Taking a stand for what you believe in *Extending the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and more to those less fortunate *Taking a risk that gets the heart pumping (skydiving, anyone?) *Doing what you love and not caring about the financial aspects of it *Going to a farmer's market *A long drive where the journey is just as important as the destination *Appreciating your body, every curve, flaw, scar, and more that makes up who you are *Making changes for your health, loved ones, and a brighter future because you want to, not because you have to *Being loved for who you are, inside and outside And so much more. Truth be told, love is all of those things, but the beauty is, it's not so much about the materialism or even the sex. It's the feeling love brings when you are doing whatever brings you happiness. That could be joy, appreciation, excitement, pleasure, hope, fearlessness, humility, creativity, inspiration, resilience, laughter, understanding, compassion, kindness, and many more emotions that can make you feel so good inside. Love is more than just the romance that we see in movies, advertisements, and everywhere we go. It can be shared between family members, friends, colleagues, strangers, and even those who are different from who you are. And it's even the little things that makes our hearts beat faster and brings us happiness. Love is more than just the expected big or grand things that bring us happiness and pleasure. It can be the little, unexpected joys that can bring just as much love into our lives. The sad thing is that these things aren't as prominent in the media because love is often mocked, parodied, or criticized for us putting so much weight on the little things that bring us love. But it's these things that matter in our lives which can bring just as much joy than the usual tokens of affection. But the bottom line remains the same. Love should and always be in the forefront of our minds, hearts, and souls. (Like my previous posts, I'm not an expert on these matters, nor do I pretend to be. These are just my observations and experiences that I want to share with others for your enjoyment and looking at things from a new perspective. You're welcome to disagree with me, but please do so in a mature way, without all the yelling, cursing, and being just plain mean. Any violence or abusive language will not be tolerated.) One of my favorite sections of Scripture talks about love, and I thought I could share it with you as a reminder of what love should and shouldn't be. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is so much more than what is seen in the media or even at a glance.

It shouldn't have to be used to put fear, guilt, shame, and more bad feelings within us that we carry for the rest of our lives. It shouldn't have to make us feel bad every single day. That's not what love is. Love is supposed to make us feel good. It's not just getting roses or a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's day. It's not just going out to a candlelit dinner. It's not just having sex every night, or even every morning. It's not just the things that we think love is. Love is so much more. It's the little things that brings us joy and happiness, no matter how small and insignificant it is. It matters to us because of that warmth it brings into our lives when we do something that we love. It may be the ordinary things, or the extraordinary things. It may be gestures. It may actions. It may be doing something without being asked to do it. It may be being selfless for another. The truth is, love is all of those things and more. And another quick note about love? It's loving one another without fear. Someone on Instagram puts it best this way: in Frozen the Musical, Anna sees the beauty in Elsa's magic and loves her dearly. Her parents, on the other hand, gave into fear after the accident and overwhelms them immensely. Almost to the point where they are powerless to help Elsa. Even as she grows up, Anna is not afraid of Elsa's powers, and she risks her life to help her sister see the beauty of her magic and won't stop until that mission is completed. To quote her specifically, "leading with love is the only thing that is stronger than fear. But, it takes great courage and bravery to be loving. It is not a blind and naive thing to love, but it is a brave choice to look deeper to see the good and beauty in things that look ugly and scary when seen through the lens of fear." Love is not fear. It is courage. And each and every day, we are brave to express and feel that love. Even to those who don't deserve it at all. The bottom line? Always, always give in to love. It is courage. It is strength. It is hope. It is happiness. It is joy. It is kindness. It is empathetic. It is freedom. It is all the good things we want and deserve in our lives. I leave you with this powerful quote from someone who knew a great deal about love, and how we should practice it each and every day. "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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