"Let's have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves. "NOW thyself" is more important than "Know thyself." Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It's crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand, monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful." ~ Mel Brooks

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love the One Your With

To err is human, to love is divine. There is nothing more pure than the gift of unconditional love. You can love your dog or car. You might love chocolate or going to the movies. The question is......WHO do you love unconditionally? Your kids? Your spouse? Your parents? Do you love them without rigid conditions that leave your gift empty? Do you love those around you even when they may disappoint you? Do you hold it against them? Love is said to be a virtue......why is it so hard sometimes to just be in it? To love without fear; to love without hesitation; to love without the hope of anything in return.

This study on love is lifelong. It never ends. We practice our love with those around us, good or bad. There is one creature in my life that I love unconditionally, my cat, Miles, or Mamösh, as he is affectionately known. Now, I'm not saying I don't love my children or my husband, because I do. Endlessly. I love them with all of my being, however, I'm not so perfect as to think that my love is not muddled, or altered in some way. My cat, well......he loves me. He doesn't ask anything of me, he cuddles me at any opportunity, in fact he is sitting in my lap loving me as I write. Miles knows when all I need is a good hug to help make life tolerable again. Miles doesn't get angry with me, yell at me, ignore me. He doesn't talk back or say anything that is hurtful. His presence is calm and affectionate. He wants nothing more than to give love. Miles is my 'hero of love.'

Now, that being said, I will share my love for my family. My children, well, they run the ages of 16 months to 11 years. My son (almost 11) is outspoken, bold, intelligent, challenging, selfishly motivated, a powerhouse......he truly would make a great litigator. He questions every answer, even his own. He thinks he knows it all, even when he's asking the questions. He' the sweetest kid but then he can be really unfriendly. My son is the greatest contradiction. I think it's the age, or maybe because he's a boy, either way, being his Mother is a task. One that the great Lord above trusted with me to provide. The Lord gave me this child as a reminder of what a struggle it is to be firm yet gentle, honest yet obscure, easy going yet not too much. The Lord above knew that I needed the lessons that our son would bring in order for me to move on to the person I'm wishing to grow into. He brings with him the lesson of balance. I love my son. I love him 'all the way to the moon and back.' Sometimes, though, and I'll admit it, it is difficult. I don't ever take or wish my love away, but sometimes, after several winter days cooped up inside, after multiple moments of needing to raise my voice over hurtful words spoken or a swat to the back, I'm angered beyond consolable and for a moment........our love is conditional. It's much easier to love when the person receiving your love does things, say things or behaves the way you want them to. When caution goes to the wind and unfavorable behaviour slips out, the heart aches and the thought......"how is it possible to love but feel so hurt" may come to mind. When all is said and done, my son and I usually share a spot on my bed, snuggle in together, we usually choose not to speak because typically too much has been said already. We sit, wrapped up in each other, breathing and relaxing into the love that we share this is not conditional. At that same moment when our sub-conscious knows we're in that space one of us will say those words we always long to hear......"I love you".

Now, my oldest daughter is kind, forgiving, sneaky, spiteful at times, compassionate, and well, 9. She is learning the art of words......nice or not. She is learning the art of working it.....for good or bad. There again, the Lord knew that I needed to learn the lessons that she came with: tolerance, forgiveness, friendship. When this child and I come to blows it's a teary one, for both of us. Neither one of us likes to know that we've been hurt by the other. We are both sensitive creatures. I find that the naked honesty of being able to cry together is what has been the glue that keeps us held together so well. We might share some words......get upset and holler at each other. In the end, we'll meet on the sofa in her room, look at each other, apologize where it might be needed and then.....talk it out. There is never more than a moments time where there is anger between us, but, in that short lapse of time, we are both loving conditionally. And just as fast as the conditions came, they go. Then our love is able to flow without borders.

Thankfully, the littlest girls don't talk back just yet. They haven't learned the hurtful words of our preteen children. They don't even have it in their bones. They do know how to sneak into the cookie jar, write on the walls with marker, or stuff the toilet with a whole roll of toilet paper. At this stage, I've been there and done that. Now, I can just laugh or cry, depending on the scenario. I'll express my disparagement and usually the 3 year old will help clean up. The babies love unconditionally. They love that I'm around. They love that Mama makes pancakes. They love me because I am their Mama and nothing else matters. Of course every parent dreams of having children that won't ever dislike them or breathe a word of dissatisfaction towards them, but history proves, that no matter how cool you are, how much you bathe them with all the affections of the modern world, no matter how much you sacrifice of yourselves......eventually, they will love you with conditions. Not for ever, but, for brief moments in time when you said "No" or didn't allow them to have a sleep over, or couldn't (for whatever reason) take them shopping. The list is endless, but luckily, so is love. Love is an endless resource. Our wells go deeper than any spring. Our love can always be counted on to perk just when it's needed, or even just because. It flows......love flows. It is energy of the purest kind. Love is what brings us closer to our God of choice. God is Love.

The love I share with my partner.....well, I deem it very special. He loves me. I love him. These things we know. We are passionately in love. We still get excited to see each other. We want nothing more than to be together. In fact, the more time we spend apart the more we tend to argue. We still get that googly eyed look for each other, we hold hands at every possible turn (in the car, at the store, just because). We are madly in love with each other. Conditions......they do exist between us. Like with my children, I never wish nor do I ever take away my love for my partner, however, sometimes he just does things that really get me upset. For that brief moment, I love him MORE when he's not doing whatever it is that makes my hair stand on end like leaving a dirty sink, filling the garbage can too full, sitting in the bathroom for what seems like hours at a time. The same is true for him, I'm sure, like when I leave the laundry unfolded, let our dog sleep on our bed, or my many mood swings. I know, these things are trivial, however, it is the little things said or done that causes the rift of conditionality. At the end of the day, if we have been effected by something caused by the other, we talk. Before we go to bed we remind each other that there is no other person in this world we would want to share this journey with. It is for that reason we know our love, whether conditional or not, will always reign.

I am writing on this topic in honor of the upcoming 'holiday'. St. Valentine's day. This day is advertised for lovers. As a married couple with children we have never celebrated this holiday just the two of us but the six of us. We share a nice supper, exchange loving words, I usually bake a heart shaped something to sweeten the pot. We celebrate as a family. It just seemed natural to want to share this day that is about love with the whole family, not just Mom and Dad. It seemed more appropriate to say "I love US" as opposed to "I love (just) YOU." In honor of this seven year tradition we will continue to make cards for everyone in the family. I will make a supper fit for kings and queens and princes and princesses for the whole family. We will love without condition, all day! I will, for the sake of love, let go of all the things I 'think' should be (behaviour, actions, words spoken) and allow myself the privilege of just loving. Letting that golden honey flow from the endless pot without a single thought of how much is going out but what is being gobbled up. I will just love and love and love. If the children should test me......I pray that the Lord will allow my the fortitude to find a loving way in which to handle it. *This is a daily prayer, by the way!*

In these long winter months, by this time, it's all about getting survival. Once in March, spring arrives, then in April the blooms pop, and in May, well, the weather might actually be decent. I think putting a 'holiday' about love smack dab in the middle of winter was brilliant. We need a reminder during these months of hard frosts, treacherous weather with most days spent indoors to celebrate that which made our families....Love. We could use a good healthy dose of love to get us through the next 6 weeks until spring. This post is nothing but a reflection of what I'm choosing to work on and what am choosing to save me these last few weeks. Being in love and saying it, in it's real strength and more often. I am lucky to say that one of the first things all of my children learned to say was "I love". We say it a LOT in this house. Over and over and over. The key is being able to say it and really truly mean it, where every single word is in it's power. I. LOVE. YOU. There is nothing more powerful than those three words together.
As you think about what love means to you and your family, maybe you might examine how conditions might play a role in your life. With friends, family, pets, co-workers. They do exist for us all. I don't know a single person who is free from condition. We are lucky enough to be able to start over, every day. We wake up and have the power to make a difference in our life or someone elses, and if in those moments we let love lead us......anything is possible.

Say it. Mean it. Practice it.

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