Love. The more I learn about it, the more often I question whether we truly love each other. Whether we love ourselves. I realize I’ve been truly ignorant to what it truly means to love someone. Acknowledging someone’s differences and loving them for those differences, are two different things. We often say we love each other for our differences yet we spend so much time complaining and criticizing what we don’t understand. What we don’t like.

We spend time pushing each other to be different; or like us. We miss the foundation of love when we begin to dictate what is “right” or “wrong” about a person when we weren’t the ones who created them. If we’ve chosen to believe in an intentional God that designed the Earth, trees, cycle of life, pregnancy, conception, animals, etc.; how can we not embrace that every human was created intentionally and perfectly. We often quote “I’m human, never claimed to be perfect” and I always beg to differ. I’m not perfect in your eyes, but I am perfect. I was made this way. And unless you are my creator, you can choose to love me this way or not love me at all.

I’ve found that often, we love others the way we want to love them as opposed to loving them the way they desire and need to be loved. Studying, learning, and embracing the spirit and character of someone can be challenging. Loving them fully even when you aren’t a fan of “who” they are is even more challenging. Accepting people for who they are and choosing to love them as such, is a huge key to loving happily and effectively.

As a person that is constantly developing, I desire to be loved and accepted for who I am, totally and fully. I desire to be loved for my seemingly outrageous comments and my long rants about religion, social injustice, or the state of my hair. I’m learning that although I often disagree with the way my husband operates at times, I’m enticed to love him regardless because even those things I dislike make up the very essence of who he is. I can’t choose to love part of him and desire to change the other part.

We (whether intentionally or unintentionally) put parameters on love that we absolutely shouldn’t. We put parameters on what “type” of person should be loved. What actions are acceptable and what actions are not. What 8046d5c4ec043a6a8f83e49cc5eac076thought processes are standard and what thoughts are wrong. Somewhere along the way, we were taught that there was a wrong way and a right way to do life and anything outside of that, is wrong and should be condemned.

I’ll admit, I used to think that way. However, recently I realized that I do not hold the standard nor can I accurately dictate what is right or wrong when it comes to personality, preferences, and desires. I have my opinions and I know the ways in which I desire to teach my children but how can I tell another human being that they are wrong for believing in a certain religion? Or that they’re wrong for wanting a million tattoos? How do I say a person is wrong because they like a different style of music? Furthermore, how do I desire to be loved for who I am while deciding not to love another fully simply because I don’t agree or care for their way of life?

We can focus so closely on our differences that we lose sight of the reality that differences are what bless us. Different cultures, beliefs, ways of life, skin color, etc. those are the things that help us become. Those are the factors that make up a beautiful people. I’ve noticed that at times we love others by deciding what is best for their lives; often dictated by our own life preferences. Where do we draw the line in dictating whether a person is right or wrong based on our own perspective? How do we balance holding tight to our own beliefs while embracing the opinions and beliefs of others? How do we love others when we are sure that we dislike or even hate so many things about them? Is it possible? Are there parameters?

It’s possible. We can create parameters. We can dictate what we will and  will not tolerate. We have that right. The beauty in that, is that we can still love others without agreeing, or even engaging in an active and intimate relationship with them. I’m learning how to do that. I’m learning how to embrace. I’m learning how to give grace and love even when it makes absolutely no sense.

In a time where it appears necessary to demean those who disagree with your way of life; I implore you to open your heart and mind to the reality that we were made differently for a reason. We are each living life in our individual skin. A skin that we did not choose. I hope that you would choose to love someone who seems unlovable. Or choose to accept someone who decides they no longer believe what they used to believe. I hope that we’d all learn to see the perfection in each other instead of highlighting what we perceive to be flaws. In choosing to embrace instead of hate, I believe we’ll stumble upon a new, refreshing, and beautiful way to love.