Freedom & Love

Freedom & Love

I heard myself talking to one of my clients about something I had no conscious idea of being in me. She moved me with the pain in her eyes and her yearning for peace. We talked about how challenging it can be to be raised thinking that we have to “earn love”. I think you can relate to this or at least intellectually understand this. Imagine experiencing people distancing themselves from you when you don’t do what they want you to. Imagine being told that you have less worth when you don’t comply. Imagine how you would feel about yourself. Imagine what that would teach you about love. I think it would teach us that we have to please people in order to gain their love. Well…correction: we are taught to please people in order NOT TO LOSE THEIR LOVE. How painful… This may have been without any inclination of a malicious thought on behalf of those teaching us about how to be around them. It may have been parents, other caregivers, friends, partners…anyone. This could have been brought on via physical, sexual or emotional abuse or just by people not having learned a better way of relating to others. Either way, the bottom line is that we pay the price. We are taught to give of ourselves with disregard for our needs or feelings, because we crave (naturally so) to be loved and accepted. Thus begins a painful cycle of trying to please others as well as constantly feeling empty and overwhelmed, under-appreciated, not seen, needing to be seen, doing more, doing everything, getting frustrated with not being able to do everything, feeling poorly about ourselves and finding some peace and resolve in pleasing another person so that we get the “hit” of validation (aka. love).

So I started talking about FREEDOM.

FREEDOM, to me, is one of the greatest commodities of life. We greatly value the freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to believe in our beliefs, the freedom to say what is on our minds, the freedom of not being physically confined, the freedom to be happy with how we look, the freedom to be happy with who we are, the freedom to live… Is there anything greater?
When I think about all that happens on this planet, it is typically about restricting another’s freedom. Restriction of freedom is typically driven by fear. We are afraid of not getting enough resources, so our greed drives us to step on the shoulders of others to satisfy our wants. We fear another’s thoughts and ideas and confine them, torture them, declare them terrorists  or heathens or savages, we fear running out of space and take that of another. We fear…

So you can understand that FREEDOM is important to me…maybe to all of us.

In order for me to truly feel free, I have to concede to the fact that life will present its challenges: I will encounter disappointment, betrayal, sadness, fear, pain and much more until I take my last breath. I cannot pretend that there is something I can do to never feel hardship again. If there is joy then there is pain. The sun sets and goes down. Day and night are siblings. These are facts. As that is the case, how do I then achieve freedom? My answer is as follows:

Hardship is part of life, but I get to chose how I will react…physically, emotionally and spiritually. Rather than having a typical and predictable reaction of sadness, resentment, anger and hurt, I can chose to love! Yes, love!!!
I can chose to love my enemy as much as my ally. I do not have to like what my enemy is doing, saying, not doing or not saying, AND I can chose to love them as I love my fellow human. Just think about how freeing it could be to truly not have to be governed by others’ behavior. You get to be free. You are no longer tied into what others think or do. You no longer base your value and esteem on others. You get to minimize drama in your life. You get to enjoy much more energy and joy in your life. You get to let go of despair, agony, abusive relationships, people who use you, people who don’t appreciate you…YOU GET TO BE AT PEACE. If I can achieve that, then I know that love is NOT earned.

Children are born and are loved without having had to do anything to earn that other than to simply exist. I think about various religious scriptures that speak of deities that love humans regardless of their actions. I have seen surviving family members forgive the murderers of their loved ones. In fact, they prayed for them and shared their love. I have seen the power of love that trumps all heartache, all disputes, all challenges. It cannot be earned, because it exists abundantly. It is there for us to embrace, not for us to jump through hoops in order to earn it. LOVE IS ABUNDANT. We do NOT have to do anything to warrant being loved!!!

Part of me argues with what I just said. How could love not be earned. If someone I love betrays me, I ought to love them less. That only makes sense. Well, when I think about it, I have been hurt by people I love. The truth is that I didn’t need to stop loving them in order not to condone their actions. I liked them less, I respected them less, I gave them less access to me…AND…I continued to love them as human beings. The alternative is to remain angry and stuck. How many people do you know still hang on to what others did to them a long time ago? That is valuable energy and breath misdirected on what cannot be changed – our past. Worse yet, it is energy and breath taken away from positive experiences we could be reveling in today. Resentment and regret are toxic. They are dangerous and cancerous. They spread like wild fire in our lives – from one specific situation to how we view life. They eat away at us. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be a cannibal.

People have their stories and tragedies. Perhaps there is a reason why we do what we do…past trauma, neglect, hurt, you name it. I am not sure why people aren’t always loving to each other. Yet, I get to make a decision every day I rise. Every day I get to chose between growth and freedom or incarceration of my spirit and heart. Either way, I get to chose how I am going to live my life.

I chose FREEDOM.

I chose the freedom to LOVE.

I chose the freedom to love so that I can LIVE FREELY.

What will you chose today???