Publisher - February 2024

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
—1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible states very clearly what love is and what love isn’t. If you ever get confused, simply refer to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Regardless of your religion, spiritual journey, or lack of belief, we can all agree that the Bible’s comprehensive definition of love is spot on.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Let’s recap:
Love is: 1. Patient; 2. Kind; 3. Truthful; 4. Protective; 5. Hopeful; and 6. Everlasting
Love is Not: 1. Envious; 2. Boastful; 3. Prideful; 4. Degrading; 5. Selfish; or 6. Angry.
Love Does Not: 1. Keep score; 2. Delight in evil.

There is no way I can say or explain this better or clearer than the Bible, but there are a few things I would like to bring to your attention.

If you notice, love is a beautiful, safe emotion shared between two people whether it be a romantic partnership, a familial relationship, or a close friendship. There are six things love is, and they are all wonderful things, which is why love is wonderful.

However, many people have stopped believing in love and even mock people who are in love. I went through this after my divorce. I didn’t mock others, but I secretly believed their loving bliss was short-lived. I thought to myself, give it time, and it will move into the “Love is Not” list. I still have occasional doubts, although I’ve been in a loving relationship now for several years. When I hear a male country music singer crooning about how much they love a woman, I wonder if those lyrics truly came from a songwriter’s heart, or if it’s just imaginary rhetoric for the lonely, desperate hearts out here.

Being a woman, my doubt stems from the male side. Like most, I’ve had men who claim they loved me, but their actions rarely matched their words. Men who want all of me but don’t give all of themselves. Men who promised to call, show up, cherish, protect, and honor, not do that at all. I’ve had men crush my feelings, attempt to diminish my self-esteem, even call me a jelly doughnut—such a cute term of endearment (NOT—it doesn’t mean “Hot Now”)—and I still hung in there because of love.

But when you refer to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, you realize the things you thought were a part of love, are in the “Love is Not” column. I so wish someone would have made me memorize the lists. However, my parents’ marriage, unfortunately, existed of mostly the “Love is Not” attributes, which were exhibited daily in our home—there was a lot of anger, degradation, disrespect, selfishness, and so much scorekeeping we should have had a white board in the kitchen just to keep up.

I’m not blaming my parents for my misunderstanding of the meaning of love, they stayed together 55 years until my dad passed away at 81 years old, and they accomplished a lot together as a couple. They had a huge friend group and lots of fun—in front of others. This is uncomfortable to say out loud, but Mom and I have talked about it numerous times, even recently: When my dad passed away, though she was sad, she was also somewhat relieved. She was finally free to live without criticism, anger, and lack of support.

This is a terribly hard thing for a child, albeit a 50-something-year-old child, to process and admit. Everyone wants their parents to be perfect, and most of us think of our parents as perfect until we are old enough to realize they’re not.

How you show love in your household is a lesson to all in your home. My mother and father didn’t think their volatile relationship was molding my perception of love and how I would behave in future relationships. While they were trying to navigate the fact they didn’t get along, my definition of love developed from their examples flying across the room from the “Love is Not” list—except I didn’t know there was a list.

As an adult, I had to learn what I wanted love to look like in my marriage and with my children. I always wanted children, and though I’m not the touchy-feely-huggy type, I told them I loved them regularly, read and sang to them, and loved them with all my heart. I told them, “I will always love you no matter what!” I’m proud of myself for that because saying “I love you” in my childhood home was something to feel embarrassed about—we just didn’t do that.

I’m also somewhat proud of the wife I was for nearly 25 years. I tried to be kind and loving, I didn’t anger quickly, I tried to support and compliment, and we had some fun together. My problem was as much as I tried to love, I had no idea what to expect from love or how to be loved—the bits of love that were thrown my way were unrecognizable to me. My belief system at that point was that people loved me if and when I performed well, you know, did good, behaved, worked, cooked, cleaned, took care of the children, cooperated, and helped, all in a good, pleasant manner. I did all that, but my mantra resembled the Little Teapot song—“when I get all steamed up, I will shout, tip me over and watch me spout!” And then, I was no longer good, or in my mind, lovable.

The major thing that was missing was the guideline for love—1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I needed those solid parameters for both me and my spouse. I needed to know what was acceptable and what wasn’t. I needed to change my understanding and raise my standards. I had to learn I was worth loving from the “Love Is” list.

And there it is, the crux of it all. Almost every year for 20 years, I have written about how important it is to love yourself. And really, it all boils down to the concept that Buddha stated eons ago: You, yourself, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your own love and affection, and so does my mother. My father did, too. We all do! Instead of keeping score on that proverbial whiteboard in the kitchen, I wished they would have simply written 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Then, instead of fighting, love would have had a fighting chance to persevere. Do you need to get out your whiteboard?

Happy Valentines Day. You are loved!

Think Pink,
Elizabeth Millen