What Is Love?

What Is Love?

Well, it is why we are here.
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As I sit angrily in my bed as the clock reaches midnight, the song "What is Love" rambles through my head. I feel too often our society that we are blessed to live in, forgets what the purpose is: to love. We are called to do this simple task but it seems to be a not so easy task with everyone we meet.

There are many different forms of love, to name a few: there is love of oneself, love of neighbor and even romantic love. What has been really bothering me, however, has been love of neighbor. Often times these four little letters l-o-v-e are mistaken for four different letters l-u-s-t. To truly love is to be selfless and to lust is to be selfish. This distinct difference is what drives our society apart, our houses and our so called friendships.

When you’re selfless in your friendships, you want what is best for that person. Whether motivating them in doing their work or calling them out when they messed up. Messing up is normal. It is in our innate humanity to mess up, if we didn’t mess up, life would not be interesting. When someone truly loves you, they will point it out. Not because they are judging you or mean, but because they realize the importance of your growth as a human being.

If you ignore someone's genuine concern or acting out of sheer personal desire, that is lust. Lust in and of itself is selfish and purely focused on your individual desires, clearly disregarding those around you. Sometimes what you want as an individual is not what is best for you. Yeah, I want to eat four dozen chocolate chip cookies but that's probably not what's best for me. A good friend, out of love, would hold me accountable and remind me that eating four dozen cookies is not good.

Just imagine a world where there is no accountability. Where there are no repercussions for ones actions. That world would be run to the ground quickly and it would be hard to find true happiness. When people close to you hold you accountable, they do it out of love. They want you to be the best person you can be and sometimes a little tough love is what is best.

This accountability thing should be happening on a daily basis. This does not just apply to love of one's neighbor but in every little tiny crevice of one's life. To be happy, and I mean truly happy, we are called to love. If that means that accountability for your actions comes in and dampers what you think you want, well, so be it.

Cover Image Credit: We Know Your Dreams

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A Thank You To My Boyfriend's Family

Because you are so important to him, you are important to me.
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This one isn't easy to sit down and write because nothing I could say would do all of you justice in the way that I would hope I could. These are just words, but I hope that I am able to always show my thank you to you by treating him like the prince he is.

I can replay the moment of meeting each and every one of you all over and over in my head like it was yesterday. I was so extremely nervous every single time and I was trying to gather all the "right" things to say that would leave a good, first-lasting impression and that at the end of the day, you all would like me.

I think one of the most important basis and hopes in my relationship is that my significant other's family likes who I am. This is so important to me because whatever is important to him is equally important to me and your thoughts of me are crucial to our relationship.

The second I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed—overwhelmed with such a love. I had no idea at that point in time just how much you would all mean to me and how thankful I am for all of you!

Thank you for constantly making me laugh and feel at home.

Whenever I'm coming over for a family gathering or just to hang out, I know right off that I am walking into a world of laughter and good times are right beside that. You are all so entertaining and always have a good story to tell me. I can't name one time where I didn't feel like I was home.

And I appreciate the sweet, embarrassing photos and stories about my boyfriend that you all share with me! Even if it is by a photo, I have a glimpse of what his life has always been like thanks to each and every one of you individually.

Thank you for sharing your special moments in life with me.

You don't ever have to, but you invite me anyway. Whether it's just a family gathering, a birthday, or a holiday, I am thankful to have spent those times celebrating these moments in life alongside such amazing people. It's humbling and heartwarming to be a part of memories so unforgettable that you all share and that you have welcomed me to be a part of. They are days that I will never forget and have a place in my heart forever.

Thank you for always being there for him.

Since we have started dating, I have watched the way that you guys love him. I have watched the individual relationships and moments that you share with him make a difference in who he is. I have seen you all love and support him, no matter what he was doing.

With everything that comes along in life, this has been a simple reminder of an unconditional, loving, sacrificing family that is also the best support system. You are not only impacting him, but me, too.

Thank you for welcoming me in like your own.

Whenever you have to brave up and meet your significant other's family, I can say, for myself, that I didn't know what to expect. As I'm sure, none of you did when meeting me. Today, I catch myself wondering why I even worried in the first place. You all have welcomed me in your own ways and made me feel right at home. It is not always easy to do that with just anyone, but you have all taken the time to get to know me. And now I know that if I ever needed anything, I can call one of you.

Thank you for letting me date him.

I am most thankful for this. Thank you for sharing him with me and giving me a chance to show you all how important he is to me. I never thought that I would luck out and meet someone as special, kind, and wonderful as he is, but I did.

You have supported our relationship, given me a chance to love him, and welcomed me to new adventures in love and family. I have the upmost gratitude for each of you. You are the most wonderful, welcoming, and loving family. I am overjoyed to be able to experience just a glimpse of this life with him and with all of you.

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To The Sleep-Away Camp That Changed My Life

Being a "camp kid" has shaped me into the person that I am today.

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I've been going to sleep-away camps my whole life.

Ever since I was 10, I would spend at least one week away from home living in a cabin and hanging out with friends, while also making new ones. It was something I always looked forward to.

Then, when I was 13, I found a camp that truly changed my life and made me into the person I am today. So, after returning from my seventh year (four as a camper and three on staff), I'm writing a letter to the place that made a bigger impact on my life than I could have ever imagined.

Dear Chris Dudley Basketball Camp,

Thank you. Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the friendships, the memories and for the countless lessons learned while spending time in the Vernonia hills. Being a type one diabetic is not an easy hand of cards to be dealt, but somehow, this camp makes it seem like it's just something we have and it can't tear us down.

Thank you for giving me friends from all over the country and even the world, and for giving me endless reasons to travel and see new places and old faces.

Because of this place, I've learned how to cherish the moments you spend with people because it could be another year until you see them again. Because of you, I appreciate the little moments and smile when I think of them. This camp has given me and so many other campers something to look forward to during the year, and all of us will be forever grateful for everything you have given us.

This is the place that has given me the happiest of memories, the best of friends and the reassurance that even though you might be having a rough day, week, or even year, you will always have a group of people to rely on, to cry to and to celebrate with. Who would have thought that someplace in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, would be a place that I hate leaving every year and can't imagine my life without.

So here's to the Lucky Few, here's to the late nights staying up laughing until we can't breathe.

Here's to crying during the camp song even though we swore we wouldn't. To climbing up the giant hills every day just to have to carefully walk back down them to eat.

To the highest of highs and even the lowest of lows. To inspirational talks, testing and not guessing, and to tips games that can last hours.

Here's to the friendships that will last a lifetime, and to the place that makes even the darkest days just minor bumps in the road.

Thank you, for honestly... everything.

Sincerely,

Emily Riley

Part of the Lucky Few since 2011

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