It is Valentine’s day! The day of LOVE. I have so many things I want to share with you about how I finished off 2021, started 2022, picked my word of the year, updated my vision board, set my goals…. But this post is dedicated to Love. I have learned so much about love in the last several years and yet the more I learn the less I feel I know. But here are three things I do know.
- Love and belonging are different and you need both in order to cultivate joy and happiness in your life.
- Once you have developed genuine self love and feel and know of God’s love for you everything else is the icing on a delicious cake.
- Removing all expectations when giving love is hard but so worthy of striving for.
I ended 2021 listening to a book I am now listening to for a third time. The title is Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer, M.D. Honestly, I couldn’t have listened to this book a few years ago. It would have been much too triggering. In a nutshell it claims, starving for unconditional, real love is at the root of all relationship issues. That seems much too simple yet it is the mantra on this mug I have had for many years. I can’t remember not having this mug. It made it to Arizona with me and even with the cracks and chips I can’t seem to throw it away, because of it’s trite yet simple wisdom “Love is the answer no matter what the question is”.
Two things came to mind, over and over, as I read this book. First it really resonated with the 4 questions exercise Byron Katie created and in fact helped me to embrace the 4 questions in a deeper, more meaningful way. If you aren’t familiar with Byron Katie’s books, I highly recommend them. My favorite is Loving What Is, it was life changing for me. The book Real Love helped me to see the application of the 4 questions and the turnaround Katie talks about, from a different viewpoint. I decided to investigate the concepts from this book, Real Love, using a scientific point of view. Thinking about the concepts as a hypothesis and questioning it when any discomfort came up for me. So far I haven’t been able to disprove the concepts as it relates to relationships or Byron Katie’s 4 question approach.
The second thing that really resonated while I was reading the book is Christ’s example of pure unconditional love. I have such a different view of what Christ’s example is now than I did several years ago. Years ago, I was stuck in my thinking that trying to be Christlike was turning the other cheek, self sacrificing, and boundaryless. This might be true if you are only looking at the surface. Yet in my despair several years ago I was forced to turn to God and build a deeper and richer understanding of Christ’s teachings and God’s love for all of his children. This is where I gained my sense of true belonging. Brene Brown says “In the absence of love and belonging there will always be suffering”. This may be where I take issue with the book Real Love. I think inherent in the application of Baer’s ideas is the assumption of having a sense of belonging.
There have been times in my life where I had completely lost my sense of belonging. Those are the times when all the outpouring of love wasn’t enough to take away the pain I was feeling. Those are the times I gave boundaryless, self sacrificing love away in order to get love. Without a sense of belonging I couldn’t heal my wounded child inside and became a broken, exhausted, empty vessel. I didn’t have a sense of trust, not even the ability to trust myself to be there when I needed it. In my brokenness, I began to build a closer and deeper relationship with God and develop my ability to trust in Him. Trusting that as I do my best, God will take care of the rest. This relationship is a heavenly cake allowing me to feel love and appreciate beauty everywhere I go. Anything beyond that is a gift. The delicious icing that comes and goes as life moves forward and surfaces the next challenge or delight.
It is with that knowing and relationship with God that I can give love in the best way I know how, honoring the needs of others as best as I can, completely removed from expectation. No expectations of making someone happy, or getting social adoration, no expectations of anything being returned or the love even being received or accepted. Those choices are not for me to make and as soon as I attach an expectation it becomes a transaction, a manipulation of sorts. The best kind of love is when there is no expectation, not even of being in favor with God. Just the pure sense of knowing I want to share love and so I do.
I am wishing you all that kind of love this valentine’s day and every day.