January 21   

Today's quotation:

When we love another, we never ever seek to limit or restrict them in any way whatsoever.  Love says, "My will for you is your will for you."  Love says, "I choose for you what you choose for you."  When I say, "I choose for you what I choose for you," then I'm not loving you.  I'm loving me through you, because I'm getting what I want, rather than seeing you get what you want.

Neale Donald Walsch
Little Book of Life

Today's Meditation:

From whom do we learn about love?  I know that in my life, the people with whom I grew up were very poor teachers and examples of love.  That's not to criticize them, but to make an observation--nobody had ever taught them what love meant, so they were unable to put real love into practice.  They constantly had unrealistic expectations of each other, and they took it very personally when those expectations weren't meant, even though a casual observer would have told them right off that the expectations were quite unrealistic.

I feel very fortunate to have met some very good teachers about love later in life, people who showed me that we aren't here on this planet to fulfill other people's expectations, and that we shouldn't expect other people to fulfill ours just because we have them.  In my relationships I'm willing to let go of expectations and not get upset if people do things that I probably would have preferred they didn't--I've been taught to accept them for what they are, and to accept what they do as what they do.  I don't always have to like it or support it, but I do have to accept it.

The strongest way that I can show love to others--to my wife, to my children, to my friends, to my students--is to let them be themselves and to not expect them to fulfill my expectations.  I've learned over the years that this approach is not just beneficial to them, for they don't have me pressuring them about their behaviors, but it's also very beneficial to me because people feel more relaxed around me, and they enjoy my company more, so I get to see more of them.

If I love you, I'll let you be you, and not try to make you into what I think you should be.  And we're all better off when I show you this real love, rather than some of the versions of love that we've been taught are accurate, but that really are more about making ourselves feel better rather than showing true love to the people we truly love.

Questions to consider:

Why do we tend to expect people we love to behave or act in certain ways?

What does "real" love mean to you.  Do you practice it?

How often are you able to accept unconditionally the words, actions, and beliefs of the people you love without trying to change anything about them at all?

For further thought:

Love isn't a state of perfect caring.  It is an active noun like struggle.  To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers

more on love



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