It’s the cliché. I can’t do it. I’m not a “hearts and flowers” kind of person, yet the red heart emoji is the #1 emoji I send. What’s that about?
I don’t say “love you,” very often because it’s too casually non-specific. And if I’m going to convey that emotion, I feel pretty strongly that I need to be responsible for it.
So I say most often, “I love you,” instead of just “love you.”
Yet… the laissez faire treatment of love is everywhere. We tend to skate over moments for deeper connection, to pretend not to see the stranger passing us on the street or in the grocery aisle.
We treat those closest to us with expectation more than appreciation. And we don’t even realize we’re doing this.
We choose to be laid-back and observing instead of open and intentional, interested and affectionate.
What is wrong with showing love to people?
Can’t we figure out our own unique way to not only say the right thing, but to reach them with our meaning? To connect with their hearts–even for a brief moment?
It was Memorial Day when I was 14 years old. My mom was taking us to the cemetery outside the city, flags lining the manicured drives, petunias, geraniums and marigolds in abundance.
She wanted us as unthinking kids to connect with what Memorial Day really meant. The observance of others who have passed in service to our country. And the observance of all loved ones–our own families and others–who have passed as well.
We parked and got out. My younger siblings took off toward the swan pond, eager to see if the eggs had hatched from the swan nest. I began wandering through the different fields of graves, watching the people who were placing flowers or flags in careful devotion. It didn’t occur to me until later that they were mostly older.
And then over a small rise, as I was making my own way toward the swan pond, I saw the woman. She couldn’t have been more than 30 years old. She was kneeling, bent in half over a grave, sobbing. I was caught– stunned and mute. My heart felt her flood of grief in an instant, heavy and unstopping. I found my own eyes suddenly brimming, my heart barely able to watch her pain. I can feel her still to this day as I write the words.
It was then that I noticed the toddler wobbling his way around the gravestones near her. He was unaware of his young mother’s heartache, playfully exploring in the spring grass and the warm sun as the waves of her cries carried across the air, unquenchable.
I stood rooted to the spot. I couldn’t look away from her. I knew I couldn’t pass her casually by in all of her grief, to go down and see the swans. I wondered, at 14 years old, if it was appropriate for me to go to her and put my hand on her heaving back.
I stood there for a long time. At the very least I witnessed her, my own heart broken entirely in two as I stood, not ignoring or walking away. Her crying continued without lessening. And yet I knew I wasn’t trusting myself as a ridiculous young kid to go up to her and cry with her.
I have thankfully had many unexpected moments since where I listened to my heart instead of to my head. I have held strangers and loved ones alike in sorrow, in joy, in frustration, in anger, in fear, in celebration.
And all of it has been love. Every ounce. Every breath.
We get this one single moment. Just this one, right now. And then we get the next. And it is no small act to express sincere love. To trust ourselves to do what our heart thrusts upon us. –And to be so aware and aligned with our heart that we know unequivocally what it is nudging us to do.
I have found many ways to express love sincerely and appropriately in business relationships.
I have found ways to love those who were not open to deeper connection–where I knew with utter certainty that they had received the gift regardless of whether they could meet me there.
I have worked very hard to love in healthy ways those who have wronged or injured me. Not because I have to, but because it is my heart’s path to freedom for us both, each time. That means freedom to love.
The love I feel is not passive. Not ever. Nor is it casual. However I have come to this, I am very certain that the love in my heart is a massive continual river flowing to the ocean of our deepest connection with each other. Like all waters taking their easiest course to the sea, my heart cannot do otherwise.
And so that is why the red heart ❤️ is the #1 emoji I send–while I simultaneously balk and cringe at clichés. That is why I will never miss an opportunity to meet someone where they are. Love is the sincerity behind my intensity as a person.
My ways of love are my own. I believe we all have our own ways. Yet it is our greatest responsibility and gift to make sure in our own ways, that we are not half-assing our love.
That we are not keeping ourselves partly held back because of fear of what others will think–Who Cares?!
Or because we have been hurt. Yes–and you and your heart are stronger than that hurt!
Or because we think so little of our own worth that we believe what we have to offer is not good enough, or is just not enough. It is greater than you think. You… are greater than you think.
And when you extend your love sincerely without asking that it be validated, you will feel with total certainty how truly important you are. Just like every other person.
That is the great secret. Love gives to the giver and the receiver alike.
It is a gift of grace that continues with a person whether they acknowledge it or not.
It transcends all the ridiculous ways we separate ourselves as humans from one another.
To truly love is our most radical act of life.