“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I don’t know if it is because I am a mom of four, or if it’s because I turned another year older, or maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is around the corner and my 10 year wedding anniversary is also sneaking right up on me, or most likely it is hormones, but I have just been thinking a lot about love. What is love? How can you have more love than you ever dreamed possible? What does love look like, feel like, sound like?
With the recent celebration of Dr. King’s birth, this quote was posted on one of my most favorite blogs and when I read it this time something stopped me in my tracks – my first real light bulb moment. All the sudden from somewhere deep inside my soul there was a shout that I was my greatest enemy. What if I love that nasty inner voice of mine? Could love stifle that mean inner voice that tries to knock me down? Maybe, just maybe that alone would be the cure.
So, this week each time my inner voice said, you can do better, you look like crap, what kind of mother are you that you go to McDonald’s, how come you work so much, etc. I have answered that with some loving response like, you looked pretty good in those jeans you wore yesterday, good job taking 30 minutes to just sit and listen to each of your babies, great job reading them each their own special book at bedtime, you made sure they had fruit and veggies with dinner, great presentation at work Tuesday, etc. I am just now learning that I can be humble and kind to myself – I know duh, right?! Seriously, this is pure genius and common sense at the same time, but this has escaped me for at least 30 years. I may be alone in this, but I think that happens a lot, we can easily apply common logic to the things that are outside of ourselves or to tasks we have to complete, but when it comes to giving ourselves good advice – we don’t often see what is right in front of our face.
Now the second thought that came to my mind was the kicker – if I love myself so much than that love is going to shine right out straight through me to everyone I meet. Now, the scary thing about this is I would have to be vulnerable again – open myself up and show all my flaws, let that love go and be ready to receive whatever comes back at me. I would have to be vulnerable to people who could hurt me. I am scared to do that, but I have tried to bit by bit this week; little baby steps, and I am beginning to feel really good inside out. I know that I am not always well received and it is not possible to be liked by everyone and on top of that I fear rejection, so I have shied away from people. But in doing that I have also blocked out the good and that is harmful; way more harmful than the rejection that I might once again have to face. So there it is – love myself and hope that the love shines through and gives me the strength to deal with what comes.
So what is love – love is good, love is kind, love is hugs and kisses, love is light, love is helping, love is using your words wisely, love is putting someone else’s needs before your own, love is letting go, love is acceptance, love is patience, love is tangible when it is thick and real, love is alive, it grows and changes, love is pink and blue, and yellow and green and red and white and everything in between, it’s music and chaos, and laughter and silence, love is hope and faith, it’s magic and fairy tales. Love is so many things that words cannot express and I am so thankful to be surrounded and enveloped in it, Now I have to set the example for my children and love myself so that they know they should love themselves, too. Just another adventure in this quest to improve and strengthen who I am so that the next 30+ years can be as good if not better than the previous 30 years.
Breath in hope; exhale determination and love. REPEAT.