Once upon a time, a young man and woman met, gazed into each other’s eyes, kissed, and knew for certain that they were supposed to be together forever. In the subsequent days, weeks and months everything fell into place just as they had anticipated. He was perfect in her eyes, and she was perfect in his.
Oh, it’s the majestic harmony of young love! When two souls who barely know each other believe they know everything that they must know to live happily ever after in their own blissful bubble. They think this way because it’s what their emotional hearts and minds tell them is true at the moment.
But you know what happens next. It’s what always happens next in contrived fairy tales like this. For one reason or another, logic trumps emotion, their bubble bursts, and the two lovers tumble back down to Earth, bruising themselves along the way and realizing that their perfect, easygoing partner isn’t so perfect or easygoing after all.
Maybe he learns that she doesn’t like to dance, and dancing is extremely important to him. Maybe she learns that he never makes the bed, and making the bed is extremely important to her. Regardless of the specifics, our lovers are finally beginning to see each other for who they really are—imperfect human beings. This is the turning point at which “falling in love” ends and the real work and test of true love begins.
Either their mindset adjusts and they accept reality—that true love isn’t so much about ease and perfection as it is about growth and patience—or they give up and move on to the next short-term fairy tale romance in hopes of finding that one easygoing, perfect soul mate who does everything just right.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because the fluctuating feelings that steer our romantic relationships are quite similar to those that steer our motivation to make a meaningful impact in our lives, and thus a meaningful impact in the world. A little passion is all that’s required to start, but only sustained perseverance makes it worthwhile.
Sure, short powerful bursts of effort and seemingly giant leaps in a single bound appear to be remarkable. But they fade as fast as they arrive, and all we’re left with in the end is an unfulfilled void, an empty promise.
An enduring dedication—fulfilling promises by marching forward with one foot in front of the other, even when the going gets tough, and even when it would be much easier to give up—is what true love is all…