It’s what Valentine’s Day is all about. Roses, candy, sweet notes, and everything beautiful. That’s what love is, right? Well…sometimes. But sometimes, love isn’t like that at all. Sometimes love is tears, heartache, and vulnerability. Sometimes it’s biting tongues, saying hard things, and forgiving in difficult times. You see, somewhere along the way we forgot something:
Love isn’t easy.
Actually, love is often pretty hard. Love, real love, means caring for someone and wanting their well-being, even when they aren’t very likeable. It means sometimes sacrificing your own happiness for the happiness of someone else. True love means feeling the hurts of another as if they were your own hurts. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken… To love is to be vulnerable”.
Despite this, we continue to search and even fight for love. Why? Because, although love can be incredibly difficult, it is also one of the most powerful forces in this world. Love has the power to strengthen, lift up, change, and inspire people to heights never before reached. Love has an almost magical way of making the difficult bits not so difficult. When we love someone, we want to sacrifice for them. Even when they hurt us, we want to see them be the best and happiest they can be, because we love them.
"Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star."
-- E.E. cummings
You might ask why I’m talking about the difficult side of love right before Valentine’s Day. Why point out the cloud in an otherwise sunny sky? Because to ignore the difficult side of love is to do it a disservice. Believing that love is all warm feelings and roses is to severely underestimate its strength, power, and beauty.
In light of that, I want to pose a question: during this holiday where we like to celebrate the people we love, can we find room to love the people we don’t like? Can we do the difficult loving before we are able to experience that warm glow that makes it feel worthwhile?
Can we love bullies?
I know what you’re thinking: “Why—no, how—could I love someone who purposefully hurts others, not once, but over and over again?” I can’t imagine the pain of watching your child be bullied day in and day out. I can’t imagine what it feels like to see them come home from school in tears because of what another child said to them. I do know, however, that love has changed more hearts, behavior, and lives than hate or rejection ever has.
Don’t misunderstand me- bullying behavior should not be condoned. Children who bully must be taught that such behavior is unacceptable, but love doesn’t signify approval for actions; instead it demonstrates a belief in the person behind those actions. Discipline and guidance, though they don’t feel like it, are some of the most loving things we can do for children. Love can be hard, but only because it wants the best. Love is such a powerful force. It would be wasteful to only use it on those we liked and, if we’re honest, if we only gave love to the purely good, I imagine we would all be bankrupt.
We like to think of love as soft, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Real love is strong. Real love doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. It sticks around. It waits. It helps when it can. It loves even when it does not like.
No, love isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
So here is my challenge to you this Valentine’s Day: love someone who has not been kind to you. Try it, just once, and see what happens. If you try it out, let us know how it went in the comments below!
For a great book that helps introduce children to the idea of loving those who may act unkindly, check out This is A. Blob by L.A. Kefalos. This masterfully illustrated picture book is suitable for children ages 4-8. This is A. Blob is the first of a series following the antics of A. Blob, a slimy, purple, blob-like creature who wreaks havoc on the elementary school playground with its bullying ways. As the story progresses, however, readers learn that there may be more to A. Blob than meets the eye. Along with its powerful illustrations and rhymed verse for early readers, this story invites children to put themselves in the shoes of another. The book encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.