My heart was very moved by a true story that was shared with me recently, a story about broken trust and the healing power of love. I would like to share it with you:
A little girl was adopted by family as a baby, but was never fully included as part of the family. They would go on holiday with the other children every year but leave her behind with friends. Eventually they handed her back to the care of the State and when she was eight she was adopted by a new family, where she became their middle child. All was going well with this new family, until they organised a family holiday to Disneyland especially for her. For a full month before the holiday, the little girl acted out, breaking all the rules and pushing boundaries. Her parents, wise and loving people, could see she was doing everything to fulfil her belief that she wouldn’t get on the family holiday. They reassured her constantly that she would be coming, while also explaining that her actions and the choices she made had consequences.
On the first couple of days in Disneyland the little girl continued to misbehave, but then settled down and began to have fun. One night as her Dad was putting her to bed she got very emotional and said, about being taken on holiday: “It wasn’t because I was good. It was because I’m yours.”
The story reminds me of how many barriers we put in the way of love. It is very easy to speak of unconditional love, but another matter to live it. When Christ commands his people to “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, He calls us look first at how we love ourselves. The depth of our love for ourselves is a measure of the depth of love we can have for others. As I have said many times, we have two minds; the body mind that works on logic, and the soul mind that works on ethics. The majority of people work from the body mind. The little girl in this story, trying to logically understand her experiences with her first family, came to believe that she wasn’t worthy of love. Her misbehaviour was her way of lessening the pain of that feeling. Rather than face the possibility that who she is, is not lovable, she misbehaves so that in her mind is she not lovable because she is not a good girl.
Love is not a quality of the body mind, but of the soul mind. It does not tell us we have to be good, or look a certain way, say the right things, or earn it in any way. There is no price on love, but as long as the body mind is in control, that is what we do. We love based on conditions, and put conditions on our own worthiness of love. Explore your relationship with yourselves, and those you love. Do you believe you are worthy of love, simply because you are you, a child of God? Observe your thoughts and your actions. Do you find it difficult to accept gifts or compliments? Do you measure how lovable you are by how you present yourself, or what you present? Parents will tell you they love their children unconditionally. I challenge you to explore this also. Do you truly see and accept your children for the individual souls they are? Have you expectations of what they should achieve in life, that are based on your own projections? Of course it is a duty of love to teach them values, to love and respect themselves and others, but beyond that, can you accept and love them unconditionally for the paths they choose? Consider these lines from Kahlil Gibran’s beautiful poem, On Children: “You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls for their souls’ dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, even in your dreams.”
Many people wonder where or what their place is in life, feeling it is dependent on their own or someone else’s version of what makes them a good person. Look to nature. The sun places no conditions on the heat and light it sends out every day, the rain doesn’t ask anything of the trees for its gift of water, the flowers ask nothing of the bees for their pollen. Love is God’s grace, constant and vast. Don’t put conditions on love, never think I will love myself or someone else more…if. There may be an “if” in “life”, but there is none in “love”. There is no rule book for love that you must follow, except to be the best version of yourself, to be kind and compassionate in your dealings with yourself and others.