Many of us have heard, “Love is patient, love is kind, etc.”, but I think far too few take that passage to heart. If there is anything I learned after four years of living in a dormitory with other people who were not necessarily like me, it’s that everyone loves and is loved in a different way.
Real love doesn’t have a shape or a definition. Christ died for love, though He knew there would be those who would reject that love. He commanded that we love one another, but He didn’t say how. The way in which I most effectively receive and express love isn’t necessarily the way in which those whom I love most effectively receive and express love.
I had to learn a hard lesson in college: I was being selfish about love. I took it personally when I felt I wasn’t receiving enough affection from those I wanted. I had to overcome some jealousy with friends who seemed to give and receive love in abundance while I was feeling denied. I had to learn how to pay attention to the needs of others and how they expressed love. Sometimes, I would go an entire day without hearing the phrase: I love you, and I had to learn that it did not mean I was unloved. I had to learn that love does not need to be expressed through words or physical touch. Love can be a smile, an unexpected cup of coffee, laughter, tears, or simply a look. Sometimes, love is just being in one another’s presence.
I learned to get over my desperate, self-centered neediness. I learned how to give and receive love, and I am far more blessed and happy because of it.