By Kenneth Stepp
Love is powerful if it’s real. That seems like a simple statement of fact but can be misunderstood. It really depends on what love means to you. To me, love is everything. If I love you, you matter more to me than I do. My happiness sits behind yours on my priority list. But for some, this looks much different.
Only recently have I discovered there are those who have never been loved and who have never loved unconditionally in their past. I was taken aback by this discovery until I thought a little deeper about it. Most of us do not understand love. How are we to understand how to love or be loved if we have no standard to compare it to?
My first lesson in love is that, “I love you”, means nothing if not followed by actions. We all have words, it feels warm and fuzzy to hear those words, even fuzzier to say those words. But if we love one another we will do for one another. Love is always in motion. Love is not a feeling or a statement. Love moves.
The best example I have is my roommate. She is one of my best friends and I do in fact, love her like a sister. We can frustrate one another, but in the end, we would stand beside one another in any storm. She has health issues and needed someone to do a few things for her. I learned to cook so she’d have a healthy dinner every night after work. Love does what mere words will not.
I remember seeing unconditional love as a child. My brothers and I were riding in an old jalopy and my dad was driving. It caught fire under the hood. My dad jumped out immediately, opened the hood and extinguished the flames while getting burned himself. Why? The car was worthless and on fire. Because those in the car were more valuable than he was to him. Love does that.
That may seem weird to you, but I was just 3 years old and it struck me that my father loved me enough to put himself in harm’s way to save me. Maybe I was a sensitive child or maybe I was mature enough at 3 to learn what real love looked like. My dad showed me over and over as I grew into the man I became. He was all man and all love throughout his entire life.
Today is a day of reflection for me. As I look back on my life, my past haunts me. My mistakes, more regrets than anyone should have, and the people I have hurt along the way. One thing that strikes me though is that I can love unconditionally. I can thank my parents for that. Mom and dad knew what love was and modeled it for my brothers and me constantly. Love is apparent when real.
We all care on differing levels. Some of us had great role models and some did not. Many, especially these days, are takers. Some have lost the ability to love and will move from one relationship to the next trying to fill a void with something they will never understand. If we do not know how to love, we will always be searching for something we do not have the wherewithal to recognize should we find it.
I guess in the end, I have a few words of wisdom to share. Stop judging others who have a different past than you, be kind and patient with everyone, if you can’t help someone at least don’t hurt them. And last but not least…. If you love someone your actions will prove it. Model love for those watching.