The way we put ‘forever’ in everything – movie titles, romance novels, friendship bracelets, greeting cards – makes us look like we know what forever is about. But no, we don’t. I don’t. Especially in terms of relationships.
We often suffix ‘forever’ when we feel like we’re on Cloud 9, that we got the best feeling in the world, that we could lay there feeling that way for the rest of our lives. Come on, how many times have we heard (or said) “I could feel like this forever”?
But that’s where we miss the point. Forever is not a feeling.
Because if forever were a feeling, it wouldn’t be forever at all. Feelings change, whether we like it or not. Feelings are the result of our senses, of how we receive and respond to situations and events, much like the weather. That girl you were crazy about last week can suddenly look less attractive. That boy you believed to be your future husband could sound so boring in a heartbeat. Your supposed-to-be-best-friend-forever could just happen to be less interesting. And sometimes, you feel like you love your family and would do anything for them, while other times, you’d just rather be cooped up in your room, yelling “You don’t understand!” like a teenager with raging hormones.
But forever is beyond that. It’s synonymous to always, for good, all the time. It brings a sense of constancy and security that would never falter under any circumstance. Paradoxically, however, forever comes from an understanding that things change, people change, relationships change, our choices change.
And that’s just it, because forever is a choice. It’s that decision we make every day of our lives. Forever happens only when we make it happen. Forever is being with your partner since time knows when, not always so thrilled by their presence, sometimes madly in love and sometimes caught up in anger, maybe even all at the same time – and yet always, always choosing, at the end of the day or at the crack of dawn, to be with that person and no one else. Forever is not seeing your best friend for months on end, not speaking as often as before, or not giving gifts like it used to be; and yet still psyched to see each other, still excited for their stories, still concerned about each others’ lives, still convinced that the friendship is worth it. Forever is a rollercoaster of family tears and hugs, of arguments with your parents, of family lunches, of spats with your siblings, of movie nights and Sunday church, with each member aware of which team they’ll always be on.
Forever is deciding that that person, that relationship, is still worth it; deciding to put in that extra effort to understand, to forgive, to reach out. Deciding whether or not we want something to last forever is entirely up to us. I’m not saying I’m some expert on long-lasting love and relationships; in fact, I might be the last person to know what forever is about. But I ramble about it anyway because we all tend to use it so loosely, so easily, as if it dropped from the sky in a pretty box wrapped in shining paper with a mini-hot-air balloon attached to it. Forever is a commitment, a dedication, a responsibility.
Forever is not a feeling; it’s a choice, a choice we stand by with against the odds. And it only comes to those who choose to work for it.