I am in love with the power of love.
Even with all of the ways that this word is overused, misunderstood and manipulated, I don’t know of another word on this earth that is more important. I promise not to get sappy or dramatic or candy apple sweet on you. But, if there was one thing I could ever tell you, my friend, it is that if you want to feel whole, happy and complete….if you want to feel healed from the past and ready to take on the future…
…LOVE can do that.
I come by my love for love honestly, but also selfishly, for it was love that finally saved me from all of the things that ever hurt me. Being loved by another human being is beautiful and profound. I think we all hope with everything that is in us that everyone alive gets to experience the joy of being loved, including ourselves. But I am going to argue that if we go through our lives seeking the experience of BEing loved above all other experiences, we will suffer.
We don’t need to suffer.
I love being loved. I have been loved. I am even truly loved by some loving someones this day. It feels so good to be loved. It really was not the love I receive or have received, however, that saved and healed me, but the love that I learned to give. There is something incredibly liberating, freeing and deep breath inducing about knowing that I don’t have to wait around for another human being to save me, heal me or want me….but that love heals in so many directions that it does not matter who the giver or receiver is.
Love is a power, for real. It is kind of like a super power.
You see, love is such an active word, and not a “thing” to discover or find. We are taught something quite the opposite in our culture, and I believe that is why we see so much inner torment. We are taught to seek out happiness, happiness for ourselves above all else, like it is some kind of hidden treasure with a complicated map that only the very seasoned explorers will find in their lifetime. It is in our culture, in our media, even in our child selves to think and say “me, me, me.”
We are taught to become as desirable as possible, and to stay as desirable as possible, so that we may attract someone to love us. We are taught to do whatever it takes to be desired….which has translated into a shallow version of what love really is. Many of us feel useless or unlovable when those shallow measurements are not met. Yet…we yearn to feel the power of love.
And we ALL come by that honestly. We are creatures who have a survival instinct. We WANT to be happy, we want to survive. We want to be loved and understood and important. We want to make sure that we have what we need. As a child, this is absolutely necessary and appropriate and part of our development to be able to rely on others to give us what we need.
We hear it in music and literature; we see it in all kinds of works of art from the beginning of time, that LOVE is what we want more than anything. Why then, when we seek and seek and seek for love, does it often elude us, leaving us feeling empty and miserable?
Well….again, it is because love is not a “thing” to be found…it is, rather, something that we DO.
THAT is where the power is, it is in the DOing.
It seems counterintuitive that to feel loved (which is what we think it will take to feel LOVE) that we could simply GIVE LOVE. It is not counterintuitive. When we give love…when we are love…when we perform selfless acts, expecting nothing in return…the love just fills the space that we live in, and it is as if we are being loved at that very moment. If we release the expectation of another human being having to give us the love that we need….it frees us up to feel the love that is already there when we ourselves are doing the LOVING.
It’s like you are thirsty, so YOU turn on the water instead of waiting for someone else to do it. Then…everyone gets to drink… get it?
This is what unconditional love is. And…in all honesty, love is not pure love unless it is unconditional,
I want to illustrate this with a personal story….because I am certain that I sound like someone who just smoked something that made me really happy and idealistic. I know I am making this sound easy. It is NOT easy…but, my friend, it IS simple.
My marriage changed 14 years into it. It changed BIG TIME. It went from 2 people who love each other deeply, to one person who is in love and one person who can not feel love. My husband suffered a brain injury and it took nearly 6 years for him to recover…by the time he was whole again, we had been married 20 years.
We had 5 young children, we had a big business that we started and owned together, we had 7 acres and a farm that we operated together (mostly him). We loved our life and we loved each other….I loved him and he loved me back. He loved me and I loved him back. That is what love is, right? You love someone, and they love you back.
One of the things that happened with his frontal lobe brain injury was that his personality changed. Along with this new personality came a lack of ability to feel romantic love or real compassion. He cared about me still…in the same way he cared about the horses out back, or the lawn, or sports…he cared about me. He just did not feel love for me (or anyone else) anymore. He knew intellectually that he should, and that he did at one time…he just couldn’t anymore. This was the worst kind of hell you can imagine…for both of us.
Sometimes the worst, hardest, most hellish stuff teaches us the best stuff, though. That was definitely the case for me. Because we had 14 years of pretty terrific marriage under our belt, because we had 5 children and a business and a farm….most days I decided to commit to doing whatever it took to hold things together. Simple? YES. Easy? NO.
I have to give a lot of thanks and credit to a neuropsychologist who pulled me aside one day and told me rather frankly that my husband’s recovery was going to be a very long journey, one that might not ever end in healing. He did tell me, however, that all of the recoveries that he had seen had one thing in common….that the patient was met with unconditional love and patience as he recovered. So…I committed to figuring out just what unconditional love was. I wanted to save my husband….but what happened was that it saved me. Then, it all went on to save my marriage, and maybe even my husband. Unconditional love saved my family, for sure.
If I were to explain what happened in my heart, I would have to tell you that it was a process. It was a process of going from a place where I ached and yearned and prayed and begged for my husband to love me…to a place where I ached and yearned and prayed and begged to be able to endure my husband not loving me…and finally to a place where I ached and yearned and prayed and begged to love my husband with the purest kind of love that existed, no matter what I got in return.
THAT is when I started to heal.
THAT is when I gave my husband the freedom to heal.
THAT is when I got my superpower.
LOVE is a power. It just is.
This has become a super power that has taken all of the weight off of my shoulders of expecting any specific outcome in ANY relationship. This is a superpower that has taught me that expecting, assuming or feeling disappointed by the action or inaction of others is just a giant weight that was preventing me from soaring.
You can’t fly when you are holding onto a bag of rocks called expectation, assumption and disappointment.
But still, we need love. It didn’t make sense to me that I could ever HAVE love without GETTING love from someone. UNTIL I started practicing GIVING unconditional love…and like I said…it filled the whole room with love, the whole house with love, the whole day with love, my whole heart with love. And…..lo and behold….I had the love that I needed. It didn’t matter where it came from. Unconditional love is unconditional love…and it is SO BIG that it can’t help but absorb into your parched skin like the best cocoa butter out there……even if it started with YOU. Love is just magic like that.
I bet you are having a hard time believing me. I get that. I can not tell you the frustrating days and nights I spent, drenched in tears, while I practiced. I was so hungry, thirsty and desperate for love that I thought I might die. I was at a place where I felt like I had no choice but to figure this out. I am just begging you to give it an honest try.