IT’S 2013: BEGIN WITH LOVE (Part 3 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about building trusting relationships. I believe that we are all created for relationships and what gives our lives meaning and purpose is to know that we are loved and accepted. When we have happy, purposeful, and meaningful relationships, then our lives become meaningful because we are loved and accepted by someone. Meaningful relationships really do bring hope to our lives.
So, it is 2013 and I suggest you began your year with love. Learn to build a great foundation for the rest of the year by learning how to love and be loved. Build a reputation in 2013 for becoming a loving person and learn how to love people so that you are investing in the most important topic for your life: Loving People. Think about it—by the end of 2013 if you have become a more loving person and people really have benefitted from the way you have loved them, then you will have a meaningful life and you will not see 2013 as a waste of time, but you have become a person who loved.
So, what do I mean when I say love? Sure, there are many different definitions of how to describe love. But for the purpose of this writing, I would like to invite you to consider this definition: Love is seeking and doing the best for another. When we love someone, we bend our heart, mind, and energies toward the betterment of someone else. That is what loving people do. (Special thanks to John Townsend’s book, “Loving People.”)
The third of love that I want you to focus on for 2013 is accepting love. This is a big one. When you think about it, do you want to be accepted or judged? When we judge one another we are being critical of one another. But when we are accepting of one another, then we are encouraging of one another. I don’t know about you, but I would rather participate in giving words of acceptance and encouragement to people in my life versus words of judgment and criticism to the people in my life. To feel accepted just as you are and to know that someone loves you in this way, is to view love as letting go of trying to fix someone and instead accept someone.
To participate in accepting love means to let go. Letting go is the ability to surrender and to allow what is real to exist. By letting go, it means giving up the efforts to control, manipulate, or force someone to be or do something different. Accepting love is to face the truth of who the person is and find a way to let go of your strategy of trying to change the truth of who someone is. It means to face the truth and accept it.
Going deeper, accepting love is to view the person you want to love as a free agent. This is hard. We all like to think that if we give love and provide acceptance, that the person receiving this love will be influenced and affected by us and maybe will want to change or consider the way we love them. For example, let’s say you love a spouse who is always late. To finally get to the place of accepting the reality that this person is a late person is to face the truth of who that person is and then giving that person the freedom to be a late person. Now, it does not mean that you can’t set boundaries or find some other way to work around this. Sure, there may be some adjustments that you have to make. But to accept and view your spouse as a late person is to give them the freedom to be late and not try to change them according to your ways.
You see, if we are ever going to love and accept one another, then we are going to have to give one another the freedom to choose how they want to live their life and not according to our controlling ways. We cannot be controlled, coerced, or manipulated into doing something. If we choose out of our freedom to change, then we do it because we know that is what we want to do, and not because someone is threatening or making us do something according to their ways.
So, in consideration of letting go and allowing love to be free, then all of us probably are going to have to enter into the land of grief. We are going to have to say goodbye and let go of some areas within us in which we either demand, or expect, or want someone or something to be different. In other words, to let go and accept means to recognize what you need to say goodbye to. And as a loving person, you may need to say goodbye to some realities and attitudes that are not the best for you or the person you care about. Consider saying goodbye to the following areas:
For the other person to change: All right I said it. We all want to think, in our grandiose and prideful ways that we think we can change someone or we conclude that in order to love someone, it is conditional the other person needs to change first. We all would like for those we love to be different in some way. But we cannot have the mindset or the right to demand or force people to change.
For perfect justice and fairness: When justice and fairness do not go according to how we want it too go, we protest. It is not fair that someone gets away with doing something. Where is the punishment or consequence? But when we ask for perfect justice and fairness in our most intimate family relationships, we then are setting ourselves up to be the judge. So when we demand this, we will always feel dissatisfied and will tend to become preoccupied with others getting what they deserve than with finding ways to be loving and being loved. If we exchange love and acceptance for compliance and fairness, we will start resenting someone based upon our need for justice and fairness. We all need to give up the demand for things to be equal and fair.
For one specific person to meet your needs: When you love, you turn to one particular person and ascribe some need from him or her asking them to meet this need. This is a good thing for this is how love works. The problem with this is when you put all your eggs into one basket and you view someone as having to meet all your needs. If that one person does not give you the need you are asking or wanting, do not starve and wait for them to come around. You might be waiting forever. Get your need met elsewhere, do not be held hostage by that person or situation wishing that someday they will change and meet all your needs. Instead move your eggs around to different baskets and people.
For someone to stay in a relationship who wants to leave:The sad reality is, often, despite our best efforts to seek and do what is best for another person, relationships will end. People do get divorced, dating relationships end, friendships break up, and family connections become distant and broken. We all, unfortunately, need to accept the reality that we do need to let people go when they say they are leaving us. We don’t like it, and we don’t have to like it, but we all must give up the demand that they stay because we demand of them to do so. You can’t make someone love you. Love has to be a free choice. You cannot make someone else buy into your idea of commitment when they are ready to leave.
Therefore, view love as letting go and accepting love and life as it really is. No one wants to be abandoned or rejected and I get that part. But, sometimes we just need to stop protesting and fighting and let go, value the freedom of others, and accept the choices that others are going to make. Because when we do this, then we are all participating in a love in which we accept people to freely make their own choices, despite the fact that it hurts us and we don’t like it.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback and reaction.
Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.