As generation after generation emerges before us, I have to wonder from what source they will ultimately form their definition of what it is to love. Surrounded by a world of judgement, criticisms given to others equal to those we give ourselves, will they ever understand the difference between love and that which comes with a price tag.
As with most things, love’s definition has changed along the way. Maybe it’s true meaning has never been known and acted upon by the masses. I really can’t say. But I do know this – the vast majority of what is shown now – is not love in its purest form.
Instead, this particular emotional expression is like most everything else in society – it comes at a cost. And yet love, above and beyond all else, is the one thing that should never require payment from the one to whom it is given.
Today’s love has turned into something that is bought and sold, or is used as a bartering tool. Love is not a commodity. And yet, even when young we are indirectly led to believe it is. To a child, nothing represents love more than the adoring smile from one’s parent; expressions reserved for when we do good. The opposite is expressed when we do what is perceived to be wrong. Early on, we learn that love is earned through proper behavior, high marks and good deeds. Children learn not just through words of instruction, but by the actions surrounding the words; more so by the energy imbued within all.
And because of having deemed ourselves as an object that was either worthy or unworthy of love, we in turn became the first person to whom we gave conditional love. When we succeed, we claim love for ourselves. When we fail, we hate who we’ve become. Again, even when dealing with the one sacred source from which our first line of love originates, ourselves, we opt not to love freely. Instead, we demand of ourselves that we produce a desired outcome before looking at ourselves fondly.
One might think that what I’m proposing is that we give our love to another regardless of how they behave; regardless of their treatment toward us. This isn’t the case. That is only the misguided illusion of martyrdom within a relationship. I believe in the opposite. Due to a lack of love for one’s self, many of us stay with a partner even when they show us the cruel side of humanity. We don’t do this out of love for them. We do this out of a lack of love for ourself. How we allow others to treat us is directly linked to the love we hold for ourself. And if children are watching this treatment, imagine what they are being taught about loving oneself, and how to love another. Their definition becomes askew and twisted. And thus the cycle of ill-defined love continues.
When we love who we are – only then can we give love to another in its purest form. Love that does not come with a price. By continually honoring one’s self, we step away from those with whom we are not in alignment. But we step away while standing in a place of love. We can wish them well and hope they find that for which they are searching.
I hope that as I carry out my last few decades – I can continually provide to my children an example of what it means to be love. The love I have for myself, as flawed and complex as I may appear. As well as the love I have for others, as flawed and complex as they may appear. If my children do not learn it from me, then from where will they learn it?