I have always been told my inclination to love people, to care for people, and to forgive people was a weakness. I was made to feel that it was my own ignorance that got me hurt when I trusted people. I would like to respectfully disagree with that sentiment.
The other day I read a post by a friend on Facebook. His wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily is was so early that they were able to remove the tumor, and she would not need chemo or radiation. She did, however, elect to have a double mastectomy to avoid getting it again.
To give a little context, this guy is crazy about his wife. Arguably, you should not be married to anyone you are not crazy about, but we know it happens anyways. After 26 years of marriage and two great kids, this guy still talks about how much he loves his wife, but he still learned from his wife’s diagnosis.
They decided they should appreciate the time they have with each other. They decided they should do all the things they wanted to do and make more time for the things they planned to do but never got around to. He realized he should not get caught up in daily frustrations when there are so many more important things to care about. They found strength with each other, and I found inspiration in what they have.
All too often we, as a society, shame people for showing affection for the ones they love or for caring about people who did not reciprocate or who did not deserve it. Why should that be seen as a weakness? If you do your best to be kind to others and do right by them, why should you be the weak one? If you loved someone to the best of your ability and did what you could to make them happy, why should you be the one at fault for caring?
I find strength in caring about people. That is why I chose to become a teacher. That is why I want to eventually become a mother. That is why I try to be a good daughter to my mother and a good sibling to my sisters. Every important aspect of my life is a person I love or revolves around caring about people.
We should not be afraid to love others, and if someone we love does not feel the same way, we can let them go knowing we had the strength and kindness in us to care for another person. We can find strength in our love for others.
I do not want to live in a world where caring for others is bad. We should not be afraid to care for other people, so go out and love your neighbor, love your dog, love your sibling, love your partner, love your parents, love your friends. Love the people you care about with everything you have because in the end that is what will matter the most. When your life looks like it is coming to a close, what will you be thinking about? What will you be regretting? What will you appreciate? What will you miss?
That person who cut you off in traffic, the job you did not get, that argument you had with your partner, that paper you failed, those friends who blew you off, that person who walked out of your life: none of it will matter. What will matter is who you loved in your life, who loved you, and how much you gave the people you loved.
Love is not all we need. We need water, food, health, personal success, job security, a home, and numerous other things, but in the end, love is all that we will remember. We are capable of loving another person and finding happiness in that. I think that is beautiful, and it is an opportunity that should not be missed out on.