How Do We Love Thee?

14 Feb How Do We Love Thee?

One of my favorite Saints

Love is in the air. No doubt. It’s Valentine’s Day. Yet, I find love complex. We want it, then we don’t. We give it, then we withhold it. We receive it, then we push it away. We say loving things, then we say hateful things.

In my opinion, love is so complex because we are uncomfortable sharing our feelings, and I am not sure there has ever been a clear cut answer to the question, “What is love?” I decided to change my definition of love awhile ago. I have two kinds of love—the love I share with family members (the unconditional, open, ever-lasting kind) and then the EVERTYTHING else kind of love–which I used to divide and categorize.  This now undifferentiated love, I free-ingly uncategorized, can be ANY kind of loving act: A smile at someone, a held door, a soothing word of comfort, a ride given to a friend, a “like” on Facebook, a tap on Instagram. It’s all love in my mind. When I am the recipient of all of these random acts, I feel the love, too. So, in any given day, I am giving and getting way more love than I ever had before–all because I changed my definition of love.

I hope this Valentine’s Day, you will consider uncategorizing your love. And, I hope you will read this loving article written to a daughter from her father. I was lucky to have a father who realized much of what this author expresses.

Many of my patients suffer deeply from not being loved for who they are–for being told they need to look a different way or act a different way. They were teased as children about what their teeth looked like, and those verbal scars carry on into adulthood. I can help them get a new smile. But, that’s only part of my job because I am a dentist who thinks beyond 32 teeth. As a health care provider, I can help change the outside surface level of things–and I am so grateful for being given this gift–but I realize this is often only one part in re-building someone’s self esteem.

Please join me in recognizing how loving and how hurtful our words, gestures, and media messages can be to others. Communication is everything. Let’s learn to be better communicators today, on this loving day in honor of St. Valentine. Perhaps we could put the Saint back into Valentine’s Day as Christians plea to put “Christ” back into Christmas. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to all of you today!






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