I stood at the side of his bed, a man in his late sixties who had undergone brain surgery. I watched as his wife gently held up his back and helped him sit up straight. The surgery left him unable to do much on his own, and as he attempted to string a few words together to say to me, she stopped rearranging his tubes, bent low, and looking into his eyes, mouthed the words for him to follow and speak.
Later in the living room, I told her it broke me to see how beautifully she loved him. She turned to me, and with the same loving gaze I witnessed just moments ago, she whispered softly, “He’s all I have.”
When love is bigger than a feeling, it makes you cut through the surface of things and dive right into the reality of a human being. You’re no longer attached to an idea you once held. You learn to see things in all their fullness and you learn to accept and hold this human with all the tenderness you can muster.
When love is bigger than a feeling, you don’t sense a need to possess. You will do all you can to protect their heart because you know how precious what you have is. You learn to lean into security and safety, and you create a space for them to come as they are and be all that they want to. You don’t need them to conform to an image that you hold. You are free in your love and you want them to live the same freedom through your love.
When love is bigger than a feeling, you learn to navigate the unpleasant moments in unhurtful ways. Because you know that nothing, nothing is more important than this person. You know the love you share is bigger than any problem you will possibly encounter and you will battle it out together.
When love is bigger than a feeling, it looks a lot less like self-seeking and a lot more like serving. You know there is absolutely nothing inferior about giving yourself in big and little ways to a person who knows how to receive it in a healthy manner. Serving your person becomes second nature to you, and you start to find joy in the dailiness of things when done in love for someone.
When love is bigger than a feeling, it no longer looks starry-eyed or sounds dreamy or has butterflies doing rounds in our bellies, but it transitions into a quiet knowing between two hearts that this what we have here is gold.
There is a deep sense of peace that settles within you, and no matter what storm is spinning around you, it calms you to know that you are loved and held through it all.
There is something so rare and so beautiful about knowing that you are known. There is something precious about being able to see a person in all their aches and pains and laughter and gains and silently committing to stand beside them through all that’s yet to come. There is something so brave and vulnerable about letting yourself be seen in return and allowing yourself to be loved in all the ways that you love.
There is something wonderful about choosing a person and then choosing them yet again, especially on days when you feel so far from it. When all you want to do is run out the door and make different choices and live a different life. When you’re faced with hard things and walls that seem to only be closing in on you, and you choose, you still choose this person. Because when love is bigger than a feeling, it is a choice.
A choice to always do what’s best for the person you love and to keep choosing to do this when you could choose a dozen simpler things.
Because one day, when you’re gazing deep into the eyes of someone who is your all, your everything, you will want to have learned how to love like that. To love with deep knowing, with tender holding, and with relentless giving.
Because the real love that really lasts is always more than a feeling.