Let’s get this out of the way upfront. I love you. I’m not making this up. Do not adjust your screen.

I don’t care who you are, what your problems might be, or how much you like pop country music. I love you no matter what your culture, affiliation, background, profession, skin color, occupation, hairstyle, belief system, faith tradition, orientation, lifestyle, TV-viewing preferences, or whether you put toilet paper on the holder correctly (over position).

I love you even if I disagree with you. I love you even if you think I’m an idiot. Read my words: I love you.

A lot of people think love is a warm squishy feeling you get when Bob Dylan sings “Blowin’ in the Wind.” But love is more than that. If you ask me, love is like electricity. It is thunderous and untamable. Gentle enough to stay behind your plastic wall outlets; strong enough to turn you into a skid mark.

Which is probably why love offends people. Some people simply cannot stand the idea of love. It does not compute in their minds. Anger, they understand. Fighting? Yes, that makes perfect sense. Self-centered behavior is completely logical. But love? No thank you.

But even the most hopeless cannot fight against love. It is too vast. Too dense. Too overpowering. It is like trying to outrun oxygen.

Love is the motivating surge of momentum that causes the sun to rise. It is the chloryphyll in each leaf, the color of the Grand Canyon walls, the taste of dark chocolate, and the glint in your grandmother’s eye before she spanks your bare butt with a wooden spoon.

Love draws the tides to the shore. It makes your kidneys, liver, and spleen function correctly. Love caused a Hindu lawyer from Gujarat to alter world history by initiating one of the largest nonviolent movements of the modern age.

Which then inspired a young black preacher from Atlanta to march across the upheaved state of Alabama, accompanied by 25,000 behind him, hooking arms.

Love is the Albanian-Indian woman named Mary who began an organization that cares for those dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, which operates in 133 different countries.

Love is the man standing on the side of I-10, blocking rush-hour traffic to let a turtle cross the road.

It doesn’t always feel soft and gooey. In fact, sometimes it stings like a trailer hitch to the shinbone. But love is the doorway to common decency, and it makes the world taste better.

It gives music oomph. It makes colors pop. It is the scent of a hot cheese casserole, the ink on a thank-you card, and the large chunks in Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.

So I write this for anyone who feels deficient. For anyone who thinks they are a big fat failure. If you get nothing else out of these poorly strung-together words, know that you’re loved.

Close your eyes. Breathe a few times. The oxygen in your lungs is comprised of love. The unseen current that powers your breathing muscles; also love. The minor electrical impulses within your neurological pathways; love.

The pixels on this screen. The way you feel when a kid gives you a hug. Love, love, love.

But here’s the thing. Love would lose its zip if you only gave it to people who deserved it. What about the people who act like total jerkwads? They need love as much as anyone else.

So I choose to love these people, too. I’m talking about people who stiff their waiters. Or people who talk too loud on cellphones in public places.

I love anyone who drives slowly in the left lane thereby flaunting the decent standards by which a polite society lives and transforming the morning commute of every man, woman, and child into pure misery, causing some to shout expletives at their steering wheels. Not that I am bitter.

What good is love if you can’t love the cruel? Like the man who abuses his dog? Or the unstable woman who tried to drown her kids in the river. The inmates on death row, the carjackers, the serial murders, and the politicians.

If love is a choice, then I choose to love these people. Just like I choose to love the guy who sent me a letter the other day, telling me just what “a piece of [obscenity]” I am.

A man who couldn’t even explain why he feels this way, but felt compelled to tap out an email just the same.

Truthfully, I don’t even know what he was angry about. But then, I guess it doesn’t matter, really. Because people in our modern era are just all-around mad. Somehow, meanness got into the drinking water.

I’m certain this man will read my words, and when he does, I want him to know something:

I’d be lying if I said your letter didn’t dampen my day. It did. I’m a regular guy. I get my feelings hurt like any Joe Sixpack would.

But this brain and body of mine are only biological pieces of meat. Easily hurtable. My DNA, adipose tissue, my fast-twitch muscular fibers are all weakly constructed. My bones snap easily. My joints are flimsy. Smack me around. Elbow me in the ribs. You’ll hurt me.

But do not mistake my pain for your victory. You do not win. In fact, you couldn’t be further behind in the Game of Life. Because in this violent and unpredictable age, devoid of reason and riddled with chaos, I can only control one thing. And that is who I will love.

So I love you.

82 comments

  1. Lynn Thomas - October 25, 2020 6:52 am

    I don’t know how someone could send you hate mail.
    I love you right back!

    Reply
  2. marthajane cassidey - October 25, 2020 7:15 am

    Love this column! The pandemic is getting me down, but reading this column lifted me up. Also, congratulations on your TV commercials! I’m proud of you!

    Reply
  3. Margaret E Odell - October 25, 2020 7:40 am

    Exactly what I needed to hear this morning and that’s why I love you too!

    Reply
  4. Ruth Cranford Ash - October 25, 2020 7:42 am

    So beautiful!

    Reply
  5. Hazel Barber - October 25, 2020 7:58 am

    You are fulfilling a commandment that Jesus gave us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He didn’t say it would be easy, he just said do it. We love you for the smiles you give us as well as the way you love us even when we don’t deserve it. Keep writing, Sean, the world needs you.

    Reply
  6. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - October 25, 2020 8:51 am

    First – I do not love Country Pop music. I don’t hate it exactly, but you won’t hear it in my house. Second – I can’t claim that I love everyone. I don’t really. But I do not hate anyone. Mostly I just love humanity as a whole – a concept – humanity is my family and you have to love your family, don’t you? I do hate lies, cruelty and ignorance, Those things are not people – just how they are at times. People can change. I have changed many times in my life – mostly for the better (I think), but not always. I just hope that I am not hated by anyone and perhaps am loved by some. That would be okay, wouldn’t it? Yes. I think so. As for the guy who sent you that mean email – the irony is that it inspired you to write about love. Irony may be lost on him, but I can see it and so can all the other people who love what you are doing here.

    Reply
  7. Pastor - October 25, 2020 9:46 am

    AMEN!!!

    Reply
  8. Deb Becker - October 25, 2020 10:22 am

    This is the love God wants us to have for everyone – few actually achieve it. You have described agape love so beautifully- thank you. And yes, I love you

    Reply
  9. Joan - October 25, 2020 10:28 am

    Ditto! Your column starts my day. Love you and thankful for you.

    Reply
  10. Suzanne Brantley - October 25, 2020 10:37 am

    Wow! Thank you, Sean for this challenge to live the unlovable! In the day in which we are living now, we so need to be reminded to choose the path of love.

    Reply
  11. Nikki Wright - October 25, 2020 10:46 am

    “Do not mistake my pain for your victory.” Brilliant. I never thought about it that way. You’ve changed my perspective and made my day. Thank you.

    Reply
  12. Jana - October 25, 2020 10:46 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  13. Joann Thompson - October 25, 2020 11:07 am

    Well said. You are truly a gift to your readers.

    Reply
  14. D. Green - October 25, 2020 11:17 am

    Saving this column to read again, and again, and again, when the noise and anger and chaos seem to be all there is. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

    Reply
  15. Shari D - October 25, 2020 11:35 am

    Thank you. What a wonderful reminder of how we should be and a blessing to someone who doesn’t feel very loved.

    Reply
  16. Martha Shaw - October 25, 2020 11:55 am

    And I love you.

    Reply
  17. Robert M Brenner - October 25, 2020 12:01 pm

    What a powerfully stated column! I believe Dionne Warwick said it in a song “What the world needs now is love sweet love”! Amen Sean Dietrich, you nailed LOVE today right on the head…❤️

    Reply
  18. Jo Ann - October 25, 2020 12:01 pm

    I love you, Sean. Reading another comment-you have a tv commercial? I’m sorry I haven’t seen it, but I watch very little tv these days- HGTV & Animal Planet mostly!

    Reply
  19. Jane Whitaker - October 25, 2020 12:04 pm

    I love you, too, Sean And I’m working hard on loving certain politicians. They are the test of love.

    Reply
  20. Nell Thomas - October 25, 2020 12:07 pm

    Good morning Sean of the South. I love you too.

    Reply
  21. Phil (Brown Marlin) - October 25, 2020 12:19 pm

    “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.” – Uh, I mean, Sean Dietrich. Thanks for your beautiful words. A carpenter’s son who lived 2000 years ago and still lives today said pretty much the same thing, even as He hung dying at the hands of misguided men.

    Love on, my friend!

    Reply
  22. Valerie - October 25, 2020 12:26 pm

    Absolutely. Live. Love.

    Reply
  23. Grace - October 25, 2020 12:32 pm

    Please clone yourself or at least your heart. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Reply
  24. KAY JENKINS - October 25, 2020 12:37 pm

    Such an appropriate thought for today (and every day!). The Catholic gospel for today is the response Jesus gave to the Pharisees about the greatest commandment, essentially to love God and love your neighbor. Thanks for being such a good neighbor – I love you too.

    Reply
  25. Gwen Douglas - October 25, 2020 12:39 pm

    It’s always a decision. ❤️

    Reply
  26. Molly - October 25, 2020 12:44 pm

    Oh Sean, that’s beautiful!! I choose love! I love you! Love everyone. It’s so much better than the other way to feel.

    Reply
  27. Mishelle - October 25, 2020 12:49 pm

    Outstanding and beautiful! Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 37-38; But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44.

    Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  28. Ed Staples, Yakima Washington. - October 25, 2020 12:55 pm

    I start my day with a prayer and your e-mail, {about 5:AM} and in each case I feel like I’m talking to the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a way to discrbe the Saviors love any better than the way you have discribed it in this e-mail. I wish the whole world could read this.

    Reply
  29. Connie - October 25, 2020 1:02 pm

    This. This is why I love you. I wish everyone in the world could read this and know this, and feel this. We would all be so much better. Sending love and hugs to you and Jamie.

    Reply
  30. Brenda - October 25, 2020 1:06 pm

    Sending lots of love and hugs to you Sean ❤️🤗

    Reply
  31. Veronica Taylor - October 25, 2020 1:20 pm

    Thank you! Your column today goes right along with today’s Gospel! Love your neighbor! That is pretty cool!

    Reply
  32. Clonnie Kujawa - October 25, 2020 1:24 pm

    Love you Sean!

    Reply
  33. Kathy - October 25, 2020 1:34 pm

    The universe rejoices in these words and the encouragement it spreads.

    Reply
  34. niobrarariverrat - October 25, 2020 1:34 pm

    Thank you, Sean. This is beautiful.

    Reply
  35. Jana - October 25, 2020 1:43 pm

    Don’t ever stop loving. This world needs you!

    Reply
  36. Carolyn - October 25, 2020 1:51 pm

    ❤️ Loving you is easy, Sean! But because of you, I will try a little harder to love the haters and the evil doers. I might need some breakfast first though – probably need something in my stomach so it doesn’t clench so hard as I try! But thanks for the reminder – I love that you usually provide a “moral to the story” – even if you’re not specifically trying to. And thank you for the love! Right back at you!!

    Reply
  37. Terri - October 25, 2020 1:53 pm

    Sean, I love you right back ❤️!

    Reply
  38. Beryl - October 25, 2020 1:56 pm

    You nailed it Sean! The Beatles sang about it decades ago, Jesus demonstrated it, all the people you referenced in your writing lived it. We cannot “live” without love. We can exist but we cannot thrive. We can take up a finite amount of space but we cannot expand without LOVE. We will stagnate but we cannot flourish. Any thought, action, or reaction that is not motivated by love will eventually backfire leaving the LOVEless looking like Wile E. Coyote after his Acme slingshot misfires sending him headlong into a rock face. I can feel your love this morning from across cyberspace, through infinite pixels, as though we were sharing a cup of coffee on the front porch. Cheers my friend.

    Reply
  39. Wendy Pierce - October 25, 2020 2:08 pm

    What a gift God has given you, that you are able to see people as He does, as his creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Thank you for your words and your humor. It is a bright light in any day!

    Reply
  40. Leslie - October 25, 2020 2:11 pm

    Yes, yes and yes. Thank you.

    Reply
  41. Jeff - October 25, 2020 2:18 pm

    Prefect

    Reply
  42. lesliesflemming@msn.com - October 25, 2020 2:49 pm

    WOW! What a wonderful perspective on Love and one we should all practice! What a world we would live in! Thank you for the wonderful sentiment!

    Reply
  43. Linda Moon - October 25, 2020 3:01 pm

    So I love you back. And I mean it!

    Reply
  44. Susan Smith - October 25, 2020 3:41 pm

    Love is willing the good of another.
    Love is not a sentimental feeling.
    And God is love..all day, every day, to everyone.
    Great column. I love you too.

    Reply
  45. nebraskannie - October 25, 2020 4:04 pm

    Well said!

    Reply
  46. Sandra Siegel - October 25, 2020 4:21 pm

    Love is what keeps us going through good times and bad. Especially now when so much fuvides us. Live is what unites us. Bless you Sean.❤️🙏

    Reply
  47. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 25, 2020 4:31 pm

    The life you’ve chosen, or God has chosen for you, brings joy & comfort to so many of us.
    My parents, brother & most friends have passed on. All my close friends that I saw regularly have. You have helped to fill that gap in my life & I truly appreciate you.
    With all this bad & hate in the world today the fact that you’ve chosen love & kindness is truly unique. As so many others here have said, it’s Biblical & I’m sure that 99.9% of your readers love you right back.
    That has to feel really great.
    Here’s a virtual hug & back pay.
    Love, Steve.

    Reply
  48. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 25, 2020 4:32 pm

    Back pat!

    Reply
  49. Martha Black - October 25, 2020 4:39 pm

    My Dear Dear Sean,
    In reading this I was overcome with your heart & the abundance of it. Not the physical blood pumping organ heart but a deeper heart that is the wholeness of who we truly are. This heart, the soul of a man & the entirety of himself. Trust me you have one of the healthiest I’ve ever run into.

    Matthew 12:34
    O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

    My Sweet friend, out your abundance of heart you have spoken a great & wonderful thing to all the “vipers” out in the world, and there are some. But you, you are what personifies and embraces the kind of love we all are taught to & should strive for, stored in the heart/soul of a man. It identifies who we are.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  50. Pat McGilberry - October 25, 2020 4:56 pm

    That is beautiful. I wish everyone would choose to love. Oxygen is love. You put it perfect.

    Reply
  51. Sam Carr - October 25, 2020 5:14 pm

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said. People need to realize their hatefulness blocks being heard by those who love. Words said in love stick because it is love. Peace and love to you. Sam

    Reply
  52. kathleenivy - October 25, 2020 5:28 pm

    Amen Sean. I love you too. I have to work on some of the others you mentioned. If nothing else I remind myself consistently that God loves them. (Sometimes that is a real shock to my psyche.) And that is the best I can do sometimes. Thank you for writing this. God bless you Sean.

    Reply
  53. Father Ron Camarda - October 25, 2020 5:30 pm

    I love you Sean!
    Even though I think you “homily” was better than mine this week…. I love you!
    Father Ron at Historic St. Monica Palatka Florida

    Reply
  54. Christopher Spencer - October 25, 2020 5:34 pm

    The Creator of everything is also the Creator of love, for He loves us all and this is what He has to say about love.
    I love you too Sean.
    Chris

    Love Your Enemies

    27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

    28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

    29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.

    30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

    32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

    33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

    34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.

    35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, [h]hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

    36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

    Reply
  55. Dana - October 25, 2020 5:38 pm

    Thank you for another beautiful column, received just when I needed it. I can tell your timing was perfect from the tears reading it brought to my eyes…but so many of your columns elicit deep emotions so I guess I need your insights on a regular basis. Thank you for sharing your gifts of writing and wisdom with us. My wise mother used to tell us to hate someone’s actions but not the person. She was right and I try to remember to distinguish between the two. Thanks for lifting my spirits and giving me food for thought on a daily basis. I love you back.

    Reply
  56. Wanda Willis - October 25, 2020 6:02 pm

    Thank you for that great reminder. Hurt people hurt people so when a hurt person is ugly to me, I try not to be ugly back but show them what love looks like. I’ve been blessed in my life to be surrounded by loving family and friends but others are not so fortunate. 🙂

    Reply
  57. Jane - October 25, 2020 6:24 pm

    I have learned that it is harder to love than hate. But I am practicing. You know what’s amazing?. When I love I feel a whole lot better. Isolation is a tough teacher…but some good is coming from it.

    Reply
  58. Dave Conkle - October 25, 2020 6:43 pm

    Nailed it

    Reply
  59. Patricia Gibson - October 25, 2020 9:43 pm

    Amen Sean a lot of hate spewing right now but love will conquer and I love you ❤️😘

    Reply
  60. Lynda Gayle Knight - October 25, 2020 10:08 pm

    And, I love you because God created you for a purpose. You are a lucky one because you have found your purpose. You take a “little bit of nothing” and make ”something” of it whether it be a person, place, word or thing❣️

    Reply
  61. Goober Fife - October 25, 2020 11:40 pm

    Sean…Some people are just bitter and selfish as the Giraffes 🦒 Barney Fife talks about are….
    A Penguin can never be a Giraffe, so just be the best Penguin you can be my Brother!…

    Reply
  62. Dee Watkins - October 26, 2020 1:38 am

    I enjoy so many of your writings, Sean, so many feel-good pieces, so many so funny pieces, but this? This is a piece of art! Well done, good and faithful servant!!!

    Reply
  63. beachbumpoppy - October 26, 2020 1:47 am

    Agreed!

    Reply
  64. MR - October 26, 2020 2:09 am

    You’ve made me laugh. You’ve made me cry. But these are your BEST WORDS EVER! Beautiful. Just beautiful. I’m keeping this one.

    Reply
  65. Joy T Lane - October 26, 2020 3:02 am

    Do you know the scriptures in 1John 4:7-8? They are a couple of my all time favorites. I bet you will love them too.

    Reply
  66. Terry V Robbins - October 26, 2020 3:06 am

    Much deserving applause goes to the author of this composition! I enjoyed it!

    Reply
  67. meg widmer - October 26, 2020 3:20 am

    The following is NOT my original comment, but I couldn’t have said what I feel any better than Mr. Zeitelhack says it below. Everything that is said…I would/could and will say because that is how I am. And Mr. Zeitelhack…if you are readng this, thank you for saying it so eloquently and concisely. I am not always so good at stating things concisely. May God bless and keep you.

    Curtis Lee Zeitelhack – October 25, 2020 8:51 am

    First – I do not love Country Pop music. I don’t hate it exactly, but you won’t hear it in my house. Second – I can’t claim that I love everyone. I don’t really. But I do not hate anyone. Mostly I just love humanity as a whole – a concept – humanity is my family and you have to love your family, don’t you? I do hate lies, cruelty and ignorance, Those things are not people – just how they are at times. People can change. I have changed many times in my life – mostly for the better (I think), but not always. I just hope that I am not hated by anyone and perhaps am loved by some. That would be okay, wouldn’t it? Yes. I think so. As for the guy who sent you that mean email – the irony is that it inspired you to write about love. Irony may be lost on him, but I can see it and so can all the other people who love what you are doing here.

    Reply
  68. Bobby Ray Reeder - October 26, 2020 1:07 pm

    A much needed statement in this crazy 2020 world! Some people got nothing but hate in their hearts but, love makes the world go round. Thanks Sean.
    Love is a beautiful thing!

    Reply
  69. Nana - October 26, 2020 1:21 pm

    Delete and block hateful letters!! Don’t let the haters torture you! I love you and so do a whole lot of other people!

    Reply
  70. Marilyn Warrington - October 26, 2020 6:51 pm

    I needed to hear that today. Thank you

    Reply
  71. maggierowe - October 26, 2020 7:23 pm

    Sean, like most people, I read – and appreciate – your columns but rarely leave a comment. Why? Because I’m happy with the columns and with you. But human nature being the sorry state it is, the haters have the loudest voices. “Not today, Satan, not today!” Today I hope you hear a chorus of new voices raised in love and gratitude for how you give yourself – and your writing – to the world.

    Reply
  72. Dee Frances Hoomes Wichman from Damascus, AL but now of Ocean Springs, MS - October 26, 2020 9:01 pm

    Thank you, Sean. I love you too. We are to love God first and then love others as ourselves. You can’t hate or be mean to someone you love. What the world needs now is love and you show it. Thanks, again.

    Reply
  73. Laura Bendall - October 27, 2020 4:58 am

    I love you too!!

    Reply
  74. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - October 27, 2020 6:00 pm

    Wow! Just Wow!

    Reply
  75. Doris Wismer - October 27, 2020 7:47 pm

    Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

    Reply
  76. Kim Kilgor - October 28, 2020 1:32 am

    Love you too

    Reply
  77. Maja - October 28, 2020 6:28 pm

    Love you too, Sean.

    Reply
  78. Karen - October 28, 2020 7:25 pm

    Sean, thanks for reminding me that we chose to love. In this time, I needed to read this. Thanks for your loving spirit and beautiful insights. Keep them coming.

    Reply
  79. Ann M Pitt - November 5, 2020 12:53 am

    You speak of LOVE. Yesterday I took the love of my life (married 62 years) to an Assisted Living Home. I feel like someone has chopped off a piece of me. I see him everywhere; I smell his scent, I see his comb….It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do….15 years of dementia in 62 years of marriage. I couldn’t imagine the grief I would feel!

    Reply
  80. Janice Spivey - November 23, 2020 2:20 pm

    I love you.. But the toilet paper thing…. Under is the correct way…. Really.. Trust me… Tee hee hee

    Reply
  81. Sandra Stapleton Thomas - November 23, 2020 3:32 pm

    God bless you! Love does win but in the meantime it sure is unnerving to realize the depth of hate that is afflicting our culture. Keep spreading the love, joy and peace to a world in desperate need.

    Reply
  82. Mary Anne Tomlinson - November 26, 2020 12:09 pm

    God Bless You, Sean. Whoever sent you hate mail on a keyboard warmed up in Hell just got a dash of cold water in their face. You are such a great example to us all. Please keep writing. The world needs your inspiration.

    Reply

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