I may not have a lasting relationship to show for this, so you may not believe I am an authority on this when I say this, but I know Glennon Doyle Melton is right when she says Love Wins. Because each relationship that I’ve been in that I have allowed myself to love, I won. I still win. Having felt such joy and giving and kindness and respect while it lasted–I win! Being able to remember such joy and happiness, and know how it’s changed me–I still win!
I didn’t used to think this way. I used to think love ought to be tied to an outcome, to have the partner or something tangible to show for it. I used to think that love wins if it lasted. Failed Relationship=Not Winning. And when relationships ended, I would despair, get angry, get indignant. But I gave you love! I deserved more! I deserved better! Ah, but now I see deserving more and better has nothing to do with giving love, with being love. I see now that I win because I had the opportunity to feel such love, and to be love. I win because I was brave and chose to be vulnerable enough to give love. Giving unconditional love with no strings attached can be remarkably hard. Because you will get hurt. There will be times it is not reciprocated.
It took me a long time to realize this, and an even longer time to be comfortable accepting this risk. I am embarrassed to admit that I was one of those friends, years ago, that expected the same level of reciprocity from all my “real” friends. I believed my “true” friends would and should and must go to the ends of the earth for me, drop everything for me, as I would for them. And generally speaking, of course there is a place for loyalty and love. However, in real life, demanding this does not allow for other obligations and responsibilities in the other person’s lives. It doesn’t take into account good intentions and flaws and well, real life. Maintaining a conditional relationship like that is heavy and burdensome and unrealistic. It’s not compassionate. At some point, you will be disappointed. After all, life happens. He or she can still be a very good friend, a good person, and not meet all your expectations. If we truly cared for the person, we must offer unconditional love. Otherwise, we love the conditions, not the person.
I was explaining to the kids that we do kind and loving things, and we love people unconditionally, just because. We should not expect an outcome. I do not open doors for people expecting a pat on my back. I do not help our neighbors shovel their driveways for the expectation that they’ll bake pies for me. I do not do favors for friends for the expectation that they buy me drinks. I’d be grateful and happy for any of those responses, but I do not act out of love for those conditions or expectations.
Acting out of love makes the world a better place and connects us all and allows me to know myself more intimately. And it allows me to know you authentically. And I really like who I am, and who you are too then. Love totally wins.
The Boy is skeptical. He’d like to know why people bill us for services rendered. Wouldn’t it be kinder to offer one’s services for free? He wonders where you draw the line–so that you’re not taken advantage of by a friend by giving too much, or how to make a living but still being kind and giving and fair and loving. He doesn’t like that I don’t have concrete answers for him. The answer changes with each person and each circumstance as you honor your own boundaries. I think we each need to do what feels right and fair, and if you err on kindness and unconditional giving of yourself, everything will be alright. Go above and beyond when you can. Start with an open and kind heart. Don’t let fear of pain or hurts dictate your behaviors or restrict your offerings in life. Be love. This kind of love is lasting love. It’s in me, so I win. Love wins.