Phraseology: “I love you but ______”

life + death colour

Words create worlds.  -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

I am realizing more and more how right Heschel was.  Words have immense power… to build + to tear down, to bring life + to bring death, to heal + to infect.  Often our words have this polar quality about them.  Either good or bad, right or wrong, up or down.  In order that things fit into neat boxes and over-simplified categories.

As of late, the phrase ” I love you but ______” has been thrown my direction more times than I would like to count.  It is definitely one of those polarizing phrases.  It’s a dagger in the heart sort of phrase, one that leaves a mark.  As a sensitive soul, sometimes more than I care to admit.

To contrast, I like the sounds of “I love you” (no addendum, subordinate clause, terms + conditions) with a solid period after it.  It sounds and feels a whole lot better.  It comes from a place of acceptance, devotion, and inclusion.  It comes from a place of recognizing someone wholly (quirks, faults, + all)  and choosing to put up with the mess of beauty and chaos that is each of us.  ” I love you” speaks of a journey you + the other our on, to live the best kind of life.  “I love you” embraces the mystery, saying no to black and white caricatures of who or what one is to be.

Saying, “I love you” does not gloss over discrepancies (of whatever form) but it does solidify belonging and identity with the other.  Saying, “I love you” is a promise to give another our imperfect unconditional love, again and again.  It is this kind of love that I want to be about.


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