It’s me — you — in the Year 2018 of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The reason I’m writing you is because Valentine’s Day is almost here. It made me think of how much you love love, or more rather, how much you love the idea of it.
Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve had this hyper-romanticized, cookie-cutter perception of what love looks like. Your mom and dad fell in love at 16. Got married at 23. Had their first child (you) at 25. Still together almost 30 years later. They have the type of love people read about in romance novels. You’ve always revered their love. Desired it. Idolized it, even. And while you’re blessed to be a product of it, you need to know that your parents’ love story is not — and will never be — the blueprint for yours.
As you’re reading this right now, you’re fourteen, in your first year of high school, overtaken by the exciting “new car smell” of your first teenage love affair (*cues Alicia*). You’re young and in love, just like your parents were. You think you’ve found your forever. You wholeheartedly believe your first love will be your last.
But here’s some truth for you: You never marry your high school sweetheart. You remain single at 23, 25 and 27 (going on 28). You’ve been in and out of love, and had your heart broken more than once. You’ve experienced love and relationship in different ways, with different people, at different times of your life. You learn that love isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing. It’s not something you get right the first time you recognize it. It’s not a checklist or map you follow. It’s not settling just to say you’ve found someone. Or getting married at a certain age. It’s none of those things.
Love is discovering and embracing who you are and why you are. It’s the Golden Rule no one ever really mentions: Treating your Self how you deserve to be treated. It’s not being selfish, but rather, being self-full. Filling yourself up with so much of God that no matter how much you give to others, you always feel complete. It’s your cup that runneth over.
My prayer for you is to search for the love inside of yourself without ever feeling the need to look for it in someone else. I pray that you love yourself the way you desire to be loved. And I pray that you learn how to love and see yourself through God’s eyes. That when you look at yourself in the mirror, you genuinely admire your reflection and everything beneath it. ‘Cause in the words of Kendrick, “Love is not just a verb, it’s you looking in the mirror.”
You’ll never have your parents’ love story, but you will find love — in God, in you, in time.