I think that much of our society has come to fear the word “love.” And I don’t like that. I don’t like it one bit.
Why do we feel like we lose our power when we say “I love you?” This is, in fact, where we gain it. We free ourselves from uncertainty and cloudiness and ambiguity. The other person’s reaction or response doesn’t matter; they are not an authority on the subject matter of our hearts. Obviously having love (and the expression of it) reciprocated is wonderful but it isn’t the point. If we all waited on the other person to say “I love you” first, the magical three-word combination would never get said.
I remember for years loving a friend but being afraid to tell him. What was I afraid of? It’s not as if I was in love with him, professing my desire to run away together and live like Noah and Allie until we wrinkle in our old age—no. But I loved him, and I knew it. The fact of the matter is that my love for him wasn’t conditional on him returning the phrase. (Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that he did.) Once you’ve chosen to actively love someone, the hard part is done. Saying it is simple. Furthermore, the more love we give to others, the greater our capacity to love becomes.
Love is not to be stifled, softened, limited or withheld. It is ours to throw out the window, letting it sweep like the wind over those we leave behind. Love is ours to give freely (and I’m not talking about the “free love” of the 60’s and 70’s), whether to the grocery store cashier or a lab partner or an author whose books you love or even a guy you met randomly in a fast food restaurant one Thursday afternoon.
What I’m suggesting is simple: if you love someone, say it. Say it in a letter, a text message, a postcard, a speech, a voicemail. Say it in chalk, in ink, in watercolor, in charcoal, in permanent marker. Say it often and say it with conviction. Don’t be scared to say it and don’t be scared to hear it; we were made for this.
Note: In an ironic twist, this post has been sitting in the “notes” section of my phone for about a month now. Perhaps I need to match my fearlessness for posting on my blog with my fearlessness for letting people know that I care about them.