There are a lot of things in life that we do not have control over. We cannot choose our family. We do not get a say who sits next to us on the bus. We do not decide if and when we are gonna get down with the flu. And at some level, we do not choose who we fall for – we do not choose who we love. A lot of people say it just happens. But also, at some level, it is completely untrue.
We do get a say in choosing who we love. Love, for me, has always been more than a feeling. It is a decision and it takes time and it takes work. I used to be a lot more in control when it comes to “matters of the heart.” But the same could not be said when you really fall in love. Your walls begin to crumble, the defenses begin to fall, and everything you thought you knew about yourself turns out to be wrong. You thought you were strong; you were barely even there. You thought you were intelligent; you have never been so wrong. You thought you could handle everything; you cannot. But all of these – all of the things you were wrong about – you can change. It takes but one decision – it is as simple and as complicated as that.
Life, some say, is all about the choices we make. And the same can be said when it comes to loving someone. Day in and day out, you make decisions and your choices affect not only yourself, but also your partner and your relationship as a whole. Sometimes you make a decision that seems right and kind and yet, to the other person, it is not. It is going to be confusing and it might even hurt, but this also leads you to another decision you have to make: when something wrong happens, how are you going to face it? Love is a decision, much of life is. So how do you decide when it hurts? How do you decide when you are confused? How do you keep holding on to something when you are uncertain?
Do not look at me for answers, that is not what this is all about. I can be just as confused as the next guy who just got off the bus, his head down, his face a mixture of sadness and angst. I can be just as hurt as the girl entering the coffee shop looking like she is having the absolute worst day of her life. But more so, I am as hopeful as the mother holding her child, looking at him with such wonder, seeing in her child’s eyes all things bright and beautiful that he can possibly be. I have read somewhere that expecting too much is what sometimes kills you. But at times, hope is the only thing you can hold on to. Love and hope. When you truly love someone, you love every inch of them. Even the things you do not like become things that you love. Even little annoyances become cute gestures. But what of hate? What of conflicts, disappointments, differences? What about the things that bring you confusion and pain? How do you learn to take these all in, to take the good with the bad?
Not a single relationship is perfect. Not a single man is. Even the sweetest of lovers can have discord. They can fight about petty things or argue about really important ones and it can feel like nothing in the world is right. So, what of hurt? What if you feel so hurt you just begin to question everything but your love for the person in front of you. Yes, you love them – you are in love with them. But you ask yourself: is love enough? Is love truly enough? Is love ever enough? I guess it never is.
Trust. Respect. Understanding. Genuine care. These are all things that are equally important and they all spring from love. You cannot say you love someone when you do not respect their needs. You cannot love someone and not trust them. You cannot love someone you do not understand. And you cannot say you love someone you do not give a damn about. To love is to wish the other person well, to want all the best things for the other person, to want the other person to grow and to achieve all their potential.
So if the person you love hurts you – whether or not it is intentional – you choose love. You just choose love. You wish the person well, you give all the best things to them, you let them grow. It is not as easy as it sounds, especially not when you are hurting. But think of all the good. Focus on the positive. Think of the person you love and think of your favorite moments with them. And think: “This is how I see you. This is how I see us. We are in love and we are happy. We are together and we are happy. We are one and we are happy.” Think happiness. Think joy. Think of all the good you had together and all the good yet to be had. Think of ways to solve the problem. Think of ways to get out of the pain and confusion. Think how much you love the other person. And decide. And whatever you do, choose love. And deep down in your heart of hearts, hope that the other person chooses the same.