If a weekend was delivered to my doorstep this past Friday, then I didn’t seem to notice it.

Either I confused it for a never-ending Monday or decided that Friday and Saturday would just look a lot like thick, thick work instead of the play days they were designed to be. Regardless, I spent the last forty-eight hours amidst a pile of mail crates stacked high in my hallway. 

It’s been that kind of endless weekend. Of sorting mail. Of ripping open endless amounts of envelopes. Of gaining a headache quickly over the sadness some people pour into their letters. Of counting and recounting and resorting and straightening over 1,000 pieces of mail. And staying grateful the whole way through.

So yesterday, at letter 700, just as my fingers were about to divorce the rest of my body, I decided to watch a movie that’s been tethered to my to-do list for some time now—The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I found out this past summer that More Love Letters is actually printed in the back of every new printed edition and eBook version of this classic novel, so I naturally wanted to see what all the fluster was about.

So I watched.

And clutched my head. And cried a bit (when do I ever not cry?).

And I got stuck—really, really stuck—on one of the quotes, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Dang, if that quote is not a shovel made to dig up every past relationship we’ve ever had, then I don’t know what is. Stephen Chbosky, you are an absolute BOSS for coming up with that pretty little ditty and leading an entire generation of readers to scavenge through their beings for worthiness and love. 

Without any real prompting, I started searching the curves of my heart for every incident, every relationship gone wrong and weary, every kiss stolen, every heart given back in shambles to understand the truth in this quote.

We accept the love we think we deserve. We accept the love we think we deserve.

It must explain why so many of us are in broken relationships. Why we cannot walk away. Why we settle for less and just learn to be thankful that it is anything at all. Why we shirk away from compliments. Why we cling to others as if them, and their imperfect flesh, can actually fix us and concoct the sunshine in test tubes on days when nothing in the world can seem to go right.

This. Must. Be. Why. Because we think we are deserving of less. That we, ourselves, could never handle someone who thought us to be lovely and original and delicate all in one breath. And so we settle, and we chalk it up to what we think we deserve. It’s our fault, Baby, it all becomes our fault. 

This is the kind of quote that could make you dust off your hands from the chalkboard of your yesterdays and say, “That’s that. That is what I deserve, and so that is what I should have.”

But no, I actually have to revolt against this quote. I actually have to believe that there exists an expiration date when it comes to accepting the love we think we deserve.

Either we keep ourselves stagnant in never moving, always draining relationships or we learn the truth: we deserve so much more than the little we give ourselves on a daily basis. And that there is a love that exists in this world that would adore marching right up to us and saying, “You know what? Screw your stupid limitations. I am bigger than you. I am stronger than you. And I have known you and what you deserve long before you ever started passing your heart out like the ice cream man. You are more precious than you will ever credit yourself for. So. Let. Me. Lavish. Upon. You. Instead.” 

Love is so much bigger than we ever boxed it up to be.

Yet we strap our definitions and our limitations upon it after the very first day we realize that hearts break and grow rusty when we let another in. But still, still, it gushes like a waterfall on the day you decide you are worth more than the mediocre dripping faucet. Than the broken plates. Than the empty bed. Than the half-said apologies. Than the bruise left after the beating.

We will always, always, always be the ones who cut ourselves off at the knees. That will never change.

We will always, always, always be the ones who cut ourselves off at the knees unless we are start accepting a love we don’t think we deserve. And hey, maybe it is a love that we will never actually deserve, but it comes to us regardless, and we’ve got the chance to get all wrapped up and tangled lovely in it.

We’ve got the chance to paint the world with it.

We’ve got the opportunity to tangle other people up in it and make them think now what is this mystery, and why do they love me so?

I’m not saying you will ever believe you actually deserve it. But do you accept a gift that’s given? I am not claiming I will ever believe it either. But regardless, I’ll accept it because it is so much better than any stingy kind of love I could make with my own two hands and a broken, broken heart.

Hannah Brencher is a writer, speaker, and creator pinning her passion to projects that bring the human touch back into the digital age. After spending a year writing and mailing over 400 love letters to strangers across the world, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011—a global organization fueled by volunteer “letter writers,” now in fifty states and forty-seven countries. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oprah, Glamour, the White House Blog, and is currently a global finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search (watch the TED Talk). You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc