Love is…

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“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, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1:Corinthians 13:4-7

I have heard 1:Corinthians at more weddings than I can count, which is not saying a lot because I don’t go to many weddings. It’s always a beautiful way to send the loving couple off into the most challenging and wonderful moment of their life. I’m not sure I want it at my own wedding but I often read it as a reminder on how I should show and receive love in the life Nick and I are building together. On this Valentine’s day eve, reading it over made me reflect on how I got here, four years in with the man I’ve been waiting for.

This is not the first time I have experienced love. Of course I had other relationships but that’s not the love I’m talking about. All the love that came before finding this love has truly shaped it and made it better and more fulfilling. It’s not the love that I had but lost that shapes my love but rather love from all the women in my life. This may sound strange but if you are a girl and have strong bonds with other women then it won’t sound strange at all. I believe that my great propensity for giving and receiving love has all been taught to me by women.

Naturally understanding, accepting, and giving love started with my mother. My mother who gave me time and attention, who taught me boundaries but also helped me soar, who showed me that true love is not giving “things” but reaching out and being there for the person you care for. From the moment I was born I knew I was loved and, now grown up and having seen quite a bit of the world, knowing you are loved and special is not something every child has. That love enabled me to grow up happy and grow up able to achieve anything I set my mind to. Seeing my mother love me and my brother also showed me the type of woman I wanted to be: strong and smart but deeply caring, loyal, and honest.

This love also pushed me towards finding love in honest and deep relationships with other women. I almost typed “girls” because that’s how I’ve always known them: my girls. I was lucky enough and privileged enough to attend an all-girls school from elementary school through high school. Except back then I didn’t believe that it was a privilege to be surrounded by girls; I wanted a boyfriend! Looking around me now, as I read over e-mails and handwritten notes from my very best “girls” and scroll through pictures of us from awkward middle schoolers to brides and career women, I do consider it great luck and privilege to have gone to a school where I met women who I love and care for deeply. These girls have shown me such love by bolstering my self-esteem, surrounding me with support, and making me laugh harder than I ever thought possible. I learned to be more selfless, more understanding, more giving as they showed me all of these things growing up together. I learned about how distance can change your relationship but never make it fade as long as you still care. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to step back when someone you love is going through something difficult but you never have to step away. I learned that love means not being afraid to care.

It may seem weird to talk about my friendships and love with my mother and best friends on the eve of the most romantic holiday of the year. But it also feels natural to show where my ability to love and be loved grew from. As much as I celebrate the love Nick and I share, I also think it is appropriate to give credit to where I learned love, even if it is not romantic. So thank you to all the women who have come into my life and shown me what love truly means.

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