I’ve pushed off this blog post for many a day, but I think that doing it will, or may, actually help me sort things out. Please allow me to open a small door in my heart and pour out a little of my soul, not necessarily to you (although I love friends and loved ones that can be shoulders for me), but to myself…
On the one hand, I feel a bit hypocritical in even touching this topic, because I’m struggling in some areas of love. On the other hand, I’m also learning that love is big enough to not fit in my box, and that the lack of ability (?) in one area does not equate to a lack of ability in all.
I took a walk with a friend of mine yesterday, who was explaining to me the best birthday present she received. It was from her mom. While her mom had the means to buy my friend, just about anything, she limited her purchase to the cost of paper, ink and an envelope. Added to this was time, and a deep love for her daughter. My friend received a letter from her mom, and to her, it was more valuable than anything that could have been bought.
I was immediately transported to times when I grew up, when my mom would always give or send personalized cards, telling us how much she loved us, how she cared, how she was proud of us and loved seeing us in that particular stage in our lives. Unfortunately, as much as I liked receiving them, I never really appreciated them until now (Sorry mom 🙁 ). In my reflecting, I realized that my mom was giving me something that was more valuable than money or expensive trinkets. She was giving me value. She was giving me love.
This month as I perused the few tweets I could find time to actually read, I came across something written by J Clement Wall… something about someone doing something with love letters to some people (yeah, that’s about how I read it). It might have caught my attention because of an activity within J’s Love Project, where we had to write love letters to ourselves. It was a challenging exercise, but also a growth area for me. Anyway, I checked out the site, moreloveletters.com, and read through the goal. Personally, I thought it was sheer genius, and embodied all I stood for… all the reasons I also felt I couldn’t do it.
However, as I told J, I thought this might help me exorcise my demons (didn’t quite put it that way, but in one sense, it was fighting fire with fire – when you don’t feel loving, start to love… totally watered-down version of what I was feeling, but you get the idea). I signed up before I could give myself reasons to back out.
Part of the process was waiting for the “assignment” – the person you were to write the love letter to. I was hoping that between signing up and receiving the assignment, I would get a surge of “love stuph” that would propel me into a wonderfully encouraging letter for this person. Well, that didn’t happen. When the assignment came, I was in the same broken spot, wondering at my capacity to love and trying to understand where the words were going to come from for this person who could use a boost. It was a tough spot to be in.
The “good” thing, was I could easily identify with some of the things this person was going through, as I did the same earlier in life. Why, then, did it not make the letter that much easier to write? I sat down on three separate days trying to write, and I had nothing. Even with the clear tie in between our experiences, I felt I had nothing to give. I thought writing to myself was hard, but this was turning out to be much harder.
Finally, I determined that I was going to get this done, because my “Type-A me” wouldn’t allow such an assignment to go undone. My hopes were also pushing me to be able to tap into that place of love that I hadn’t been able to walk with. I wasted more than my share of stationery not liking what I was writing or where it was going… just didn’t sound genuine. It actually sounded exactly like my heart felt. I had to get deeper, into my reserves, into the core of who I was, who I have always been and find a love that was not circumstantial, but knew how to speak into the circumstance. This is where I started to understand, again, what real unconditional love is, and the place it has in my (and our) life.
Something happened as I wrote… I forgot about myself, my feelings, my circumstance, and felt like I was able to look into the eyes of the recipient of the letter, and truly give the love and encouragement that was needed. The other thing that happened is my “Type-A me” disappeared. It was no longer about me finishing a task. It was about connecting with a precious human being, stepping into their shoes, and walking a mile with them.
J threw the gauntlet again, and asked her community to write to the person she wrote to. On the heels of these lessons (although the “ruler-rapping” was still fresh), I reluctantly said yes. I have yet to write the second letter, but am hoping to get it done today. In any case, I am learning again, the power and importance of words to another. Yes, I do preach about it, but I am not only the teacher, but a student, learning the same lessons I speak about.
I would encourage you to get into this project, as a way to get out of you, and donate the most precious gift you can to another. Love.
Hannah Katy’s “More Love Letters” website: http://www.moreloveletters.com/
J Clement Wall’s Love Project: http://zebrasounds.net/js-love-project/