What’s love got to do with it?

aliherrmannoneEverywhere you look this week there are Valentine reminders to celebrate love. Hearts adorn shop windows, displays of red roses appear at every corner.

And there are never-ending references to romance which allude to the idea that if you don’t have a significant other in your life you are somehow inadequate or even abnormal.

But this focus on things like cards, candies and flowers perpetuates the myth that love can somehow be bought. And that for the right price you can experience true romance.

It’s nice to receive a love token and a genuine romantic gesture is something we all can appreciate. If this time of year prompts you or your partner to do something meaningful or just fun, that’s wonderful. But has love got anything to do with it?

What if love is just too painful at the moment? Feeling unloved or experiencing rejection is hard enough but when you’re surrounded by expectations of romance it can reinforce your loneliness. And worse, it can make you believe that you are unlovable. The message is clear – No Valentine. No love. No life.

And that is so wrong. Because Valentine’s has so little to do with love. Love isn’t a gift that can be exchanged. It isn’t the bigger the gift, the bigger the love. Love is something so precious and so pure. It can be given and received but it can never be bought.

“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.” Corinthians 13:4-8

This is one of my favourite definitions of love. One that I only discovered through my own emotional recovery. My perception before that was based on my experience of a complete lack of love as a child. I wasted so much time in the past in a state of anguish. I tortured myself with questions of why my mum didn’t love me enough not to have run away. Or why my dad ‘loved’ me in the way he did –  through control and abuse. I grew up with a fear of loving and a fear of being loved.

At the lowest point of my life I believed that I would never be able to replace the love that I never had, so there was little point trying. But it was through this absence of love that I experienced real love. Those that stood by me through my darkest suicidal days of addiction and depression showed me unconditional love that helped me gently onto the path of self-love and self belief. They loved me at my most unlovable. And for me that was true love.

“The antidote to pain is love.” ~ The Hurt Healer

I learnt the wonderful truth that love hurts but it also heals. It is powerful yet compassionate. If you let it, love will be your light in the darkness and love will be the truth that overcomes the doubt. I believe that love exists in all of us and that to deny it, we deny the very essence of our selves.

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”                            ~ Mother Teresa

Extending love to others is something that shouldn’t be confined to one day in the year. We can show our support, care, understanding, encouragement and affection at any time and to anyone.aliherrmanntwo

Love is both priceless and infinite. And this is the gift I give this Valentine’s. A love that is free and that lasts forever.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Images thanks to the fabulous talent of Ali Herrmann at Etsy.com

The Gift of True Love.

It was the final straw. After a difficult few months, another little set-back had presented itself. It wasn’t just one of those days. It had been one of those weeks. As I sat down to gather my thoughts I noticed my two daughters standing in the doorway. Reassuring them that I just needed a bit of time to myself and that everything was okay, they ran off upstairs.

A little while later they came to find me. Their faces lit up with excitement as they eagerly presented me with beautifully decorated hand-made paper cone. Inside was a collection of affirmations written by each daughter in bright coloured pen.

‘You’re understanding’ ‘You’re caring’ ‘Fantastic friend’ ‘Lovely personality’ ‘You’re the best mum ever!’ The loves notes went on and on.

As I read through each and every ‘love note’, nothing else seemed to matter. I was experiencing true love from my daughters, at a time when I needed it most.

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In the past I had searched for love in all the wrong places. I had believed that I couldn’t find love because I was unlovable. But the truth was that I couldn’t love anyone because I needed to learn to love myself first.

As I started on my journey of emotional healing I first found love through faith. It was a gift that was not easy to receive. Years of rejection had made me wary. Allowing any sort of love in my life was a huge risk for me. On the one hand there were endless negative possibilities that could damage me further. But on the other, there was the potential for my broken heart to be healed.

I decided to give a love a chance. I wasn’t looking for the physical, romantic love that can easily fizzle out. Instead I looked for trust, respect, acceptance and commitment. It meant learning to love myself at this level first. But once I did, I was able to open up my soul to those who could offer the same.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu

Life will never be free from challenges and difficulties. But the love I receive from faith, family and friends give me all the strength I need.

Everyone needs love in their life.
Everyone needs the gift of true love.

http://madebynicole.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/daughter-is-gift-of-love.html – Top image. Thank you.
Bottom image thanks to Lisa Ferrante http://www.etsy.com/listing/104934519/love-is-the-best-place-ive-ever-been