Love. If you ask ten people to tell you what their definition for love is, you will most likely get ten different answers. Some people think of love as the romantic whirlwind that you see in old movies with James Dean or Humphry Bogart. Some see it as a strong bond between special people in their lives with whom they feel close too. Still, others see it as the bond between parent and child, God and his children, or brothers and sisters. I believe that they are all correct. I believe in the power of love.
My parents started showing me how to love others very early on in my life. When I was very young, my mother had a cleaning lady by the name of Minnie. Minnie was black and we are white. One day, I noticed something about Minnie that was a little strange to me. I held my arm up next to her arm for a minute, and then looked at my mother and said something in the best way my 3 year old brain could think of. “Mama, Minnie and me don’t match!” My mother had several different things she could have said. The conversation that follows put tears in Minnie’s eyes.
“Sarah, not everyone is the same color as you. Everyone is different.”
“Yes. Do you still love Minnie even if you don’t match?”
I looked at Minnie and put my arms around her and declared that I did love Minnie very much. My mother was a model for me because she shows love to everyone in her life.
As I grew older, many other family stories sprout up of how I was a caring kid. When a little girl in my class was crying on the first day if First Grade, I went up to her and said, “Welcome to First Grade!!! My name is Sarah! Do you want to play with me?” I became the kid that would include everyone in games. My parents always said that I never met a stranger. But, as sweet as I was, there was mounting evidence that something wasn’t quite right. I became withdrawn. I started hating school. I would beg my mother not to drop me off because the girls were beginning to become mean and compete with each other for the affections of the boys. By the end of 6th grade, they decided to take me to a psychologist and have me tested.
The results came back that I was bipolar. The next few years were the hardest of my life. Whenever my family tried to help me and show me love, I would throw it back at them. I had no friends for a few years. If my parents didn’t keep fighting for me, if they had just given up and said that I was too much trouble to fight for, I may not even be alive right now. I had suicidal tendancies at times. Looking back on that terrible time in my life, I know that the only way I made it through was with the love and support I received from my family. When I was hospitalized, letters poured in from the youth advisors at church and from my family. They encouraged me. The thing that I remember about every letter was that it always ended with the words ‘I love you’.
After that time, I started, again, trying to build relationships and give love away freely, to anyone who needed it. I took what I learned from my mother and father and applied it to my life. My father once told me that if you hold even a single bit of hate in your heart, it makes you incapable to love. I found that to be very true. I also started to realize that I was one of the fortunate kids that had two loving parents that put me and my well-being above everything else in their life. Many of the friends I have now have family problems, and I love them like they are my brothers and sisters. I realized that the more love I gave, the more I felt good about myself. I found the man who I will spend the rest of my life with at the age of 17. Daniel and I didn’t fall in love at first sight, but the love we show for each other gets people asking us about advice on dating! I share my experiences in the hope that that person will find a love like I have found with Daniel. Love is very powerful when used in the right way.
I have seen the way that love can affect people. I know that my life is forever changed by the love I was shown in a time of need. So, the next time you see someone who looks a little blue, show them some love. Love your neighbors, love your friends. Love your enemies, because they may not have anyone to love them. Love yourself.