By: Bethany Widdicombe
Many movies get it wrong, and the ones that do get love right are the ones we turn a blind eye to.
In reality, love is never what we think.
Love is much more tender, deeper, and infinitely more moving than we could ever hope it to be. While many of us live in the fantasy of the beginning stages, few know how to fight for love when hardship comes knocking at the door.
Today’s society is wound up in a culture of options, where we are unsure of ourselves to the point that we seek love in all the wrong places. We swipe left and right, but never look up to see what is in front of us. We search for love, but it is simply not what we think.
Love is not just a whisper of words, but a bond that requires sacrifice, dedication, and tenderness toward need.
When I first came to know the love of my life, I saw his heart before anything else.
We wrote letters to one another across the sea before I ever heard his voice. At the time, I was not searching for love, but was merely surprised by friendship.
As many love stories do, ours began with shy laughter and smiles. The uncertainty of it held fear from our pasts. Fear that this time would turn out like all the others. While I suffered from men who had left without warning, he suffered from women who had done the same.
Fear could have stifled anything from ever beginning, yet love is courageous. It is taking the leap, trusting that something may come to be. Trusting that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
When I locked eyes with him for the first time from across a bus station, I realized there was no looking back. I could have stared with uncertainty at a man I had spoken to, but never met. Yet, everything inside me knew the tender signs of love, so I pitter-pattered toward him and embraced his tall frame before ever speaking a word out loud.
Many movies end in such a way, but our love story was only just beginning.
With any love comes a form of hardship. Until then, I had been battling my health alone. Now, I suddenly had to learn to include someone in the journey. Someone who actually wanted to be there with me in my struggle.
When we met, I was only two weeks out of surgery from a breast tumor. Movement still felt painful, yet he was there for every step of it. His attentive gaze toward my needs not only showed in the beginning stages of our love story, but also in the months that followed.
While I writhed in pain, and tried to push him away from it, he only stepped closer. It is in the intimacy of pain that love seems to speak louder than ever. It is in the everyday that love is something to be felt and to be.
For love is not what we think. It is not the flash of a moment of laughter and a good evening. No, love is in the aches and pains of life. Love is in the tender moments that speak louder than any words ever could.
Only a few months into our love story, I had a second surgery that brought a different level of hardship and pain, yet he never left my side through the whole recovery process. He was my eyes when I could not see, my feet when I could not walk, and my courage when I could not bear the pain.
To me, that is love. Love is not words filling an empty sky, it is action—the resolve that fills your heart to stay with your partner no matter the cost, the hardship, or the pain that life throws your way.
Love is in hardship, in triumph. Love is in the peaceful and tender moments of life.
During recovery, I often was sleeping. One day, I awoke to his head pressed against my forehead with his body curled up facing mine. He had fallen asleep next to me. I knew even he was tired of this recovery process, but the simple act of curling up next to me nearly melted my heart.
I let the tears of happiness trickle down my cheeks, for in that moment I knew that whatever hardship we would face, we would face it together. Love filled the room with one tender act of heartache, beauty, and the simplicity of loving someone for exactly where they are in life.
Love is not what we think.
It is not twirling through fields of flowers, or daring quests across great lands. Love is in the everyday, and in every action we choose to take.
My love did not have to sit with me every day during recovery, but he chose to. Love is choosing. It is breathing into another person’s life and saying, “I am here.”
Wherever love takes you, I hope it is tender, beautiful, and wise.
For love is not what you think, it is what you are.