Love is hard. It’s a verb. It’s something we do, not just feel. Or say. I got to see a friend last weekend for the first time in several years, and she reminded me that listening with love was a whole different ballgame than just listening. Activate it with love, and you can hear what’s really being said. Or hear, period. Active listening, the kind where you give 100% attention to the speaker, and hear what’s not being said too, is a gift to anyone.

Love is hard. It takes commitment, energy, compromise, and grace. Patience isn’t far behind either. Things that are in short supply around here when things get tough. Love waits. Ever hear the country song “He Stopped Loving Her Today?” Enough said. Love finds the joy, endures the crap, and holds the key. I got to see my grandma turn 93 a few days ago, and the love I have for that woman is as fierce as any I’ve ever felt. She lost her husband decades ago, saw her father die when she was 12, raised 7 kids almost single-handedly, and lost 2 sons early. I’ve never once heard her complain or express regret over her circumstances, just acceptance and thankfulness. She loves tirelessly.

Love is hard. It takes honesty, rawness, vulnerability, and trust. It can be incredibly lonely too. Unrequited love certainly is, but so are relationships at times. The closer I get to my husband, the more I realize the depths and the differences. The power to hurt, the pain of doing so. The chill of a pedestal. The warmth of a spirit next to yours, the fear of it’s absence. Acceptance of all, not just the pretty bits.

Love hard. Love actively. Find something to love in every person and situation, and you’ll hear the music of truth, feel the click of connection, and find your way until the day dawn, and the shadows flee away.