Please, be the one with the love.
And I’m not talking about the sappy Valentine’s Day romantic kind of love. I’m not talking roses or greeting cards. The love I’m referring to comes from deep within the heart and soul of a person. It’s the love that is organic to our human nature. It’s the love that makes life on this big rock worthwhile and meaningful. It’s the kind of love that transcends the borders and boundaries that our human mind creates.
But wait! That might be going too far too fast. Let’s back up. Let’s talk about love as simple human decency.
What if we each decided to be the one to offer that love?
When I think of love, I think of my kids. And not because I love them. Although I do. I think of them because from their very first moments they have been teaching me how to love. Or more accurately, their loving ways inspired me to cultivate a loving culture in our home. And in that way, we have been teaching each other to love.
When the kids were little, I had an expression that I used when I needed their cooperation. At times when I wanted a short-cut passed their human tendency to react negatively to something undesired or less than perfect. At times when I thought they might judge something as unloveable. To head off any conflict or complaint, I would say, “This one needs a little extra love.” Sometimes I’d be so bold as to ask, “Who has a little extra love for this one here?”
Aaron and Leah would hustle and scramble to show up with that extra love. They were always ready and very willing to be the one with love against any expectation or personal need. They inspired me. Bright eyes and big hearts. I had to bump up my game to love like that.
Here’s what I mean:
When making pancakes there is always one pancake that just doesn’t flip right. It lands in a heap making a lump of a mess. My announcement: “I’ve got a pancake here that needs a little extra love” was answered with “I’ll take it!”
When the class roster included a kiddo with a loud voice or awkward social skills, I’d remind them that “she just needs a little extra love” which gave space for the patience and kindness. All of the classmates were invited to the birthday party.
Not surprising that when I found myself debating the purchase of our house, a real fixer upper, the kids looked at the tired and neglected structure and said to me “it just needs a little love, Mom”.
Over the years, we have reminded each other to make decisions and take action from our hearts. Together we learned to be the one with the love. And trust me, I’m not bragging perfection here. As a matter of fact, what I am pointing out is the contrary. These conversations happened because it is incredibly difficult to stay open hearted against what we want and what we expect. It’s much easier for each us to take care of our own selves leaving the other guy to fend for him/herself. What I’m sharing with you today is not our success but our practice.
We practiced being the one who brings the love.
When I look around at the world today, I’ve got to admit: it’s more than the pancakes, awkward children, and broken-down houses that need the extra love. We all do. What we see on the news, in social media, and in our neighborhoods prompts me to say, “Who has a little extra love for this world?”
And in response to my own question, I’m bumping up my practice. Perhaps you’d like to join me.
Here is what I’m thinking:
Be the one that welcomes the late person. Especially in yoga. Look up, smile, slide your mat over and make room. A welcoming attitude is a gesture of love especially in a culture where ‘late’ often smells like shame. Yes, a small first step but it gets us started.
Be the one who expresses gratitude. Random acts of gratitude are extremely loving. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. Everyone. Certainly, those close to me, my family and friends, need my gratitude. But so do the ‘others’. I expect I can bridge the ‘me’ and the ‘them’ with a message of “thank you” delivered with eye contact and a smile. Be present and be grateful. That’s love.
Be the one who celebrates and connects. There is so much competition in the world. Even in the yoga world. It’s very common to hear the little gremlin of comparison (aka jealousy) when seeing another’s success. Maybe it’s FOMO (fear of missing out) or FONE (fear of not enough) but if it causes me to grit my teeth I know it’s not my love. By celebrating another and connecting in partnership with those who might otherwise be competitors, I take the initiative to share life’s goodness. And that is the ear to ear of love.
Be the one who carries some small bills to offer to those in need. And if cash ain’t your jam, stock a few water bottles and/or granola bars to share. The folks standing outside asking for support are people too. They are people who are in need due to their circumstances just like I am in privilege due to my circumstances. Be the one.
Be the one who listens without trying to correct or fix. Big one for me! If you’ve ever talked to me, I’ve got answers. Tons of them. But correcting and fixing is not always loving. In most situations, the true love is in the listening. Enough said.
Okay I’ve got some serious work to do. And I hope you join me.
This Valentine's Day, let’s be the ones with the L<3VE!