Giving and receiving love

I have been called a (r)evolutionary parent. It’s quite the compliment and I’m struggling with embracing it. It’s made me think about how we accept love and kindness from others. Whether or not we fully accept gratitude.

Recently my family was in town and at dinner we were having a fun time when my dad all of a sudden took the moment to share words of love. He told me how great of a parent I am, how much he loved me and how incredibly proud he was. I looked into his loving face, tears in the corner of his eyes and I minimized it. In complete discomfort, I threw it back, saying I learned from the best, waved away his words, shrugged them off. Why couldn’t I just sit there, feel the love, and embrace the kind and loving words given to me? Do I not believe it? Perhaps it was my own insecurities? Or maybe just the martini I knew he had..see I did it again…as if alcohol would create a false sense of pride in me.

Last spring, I went on a leadership retreat in a pristine place in Canada. The group leader did an activity where we had to accept love and praise. First, we stood in front of the group and shared our vision. Then the group would erupt in praise. We hooted, hollered, whistled, yelled, cheered, clapped, stomped, you name it. To say it was overwhelming doesn’t speak enough to the feeling of this love. And here was the key part, we weren’t able to leave the front of the room until we fully accepted the love. We weren’t allowed to brush it off, roll our eyes, or use whatever social cue we knew to ask the praiser to quit it…like we didn’t want to burden them to have to offer more…when really we were uncomfortable receiving.

It took me several seconds but then I felt it. And I burst into tears.

I’m told all the time I’m good at things, that I’m a leader, that I’m liked, even that I’m looked up to. But rarely do I feel these laced with pure love. Revolutionary love at that.

I tell my kids all the time how amazing they are. That I think they’re brilliant, brave, beautiful, a gift to me, a gift to us, a gift from this world.

It’s time I showed them how to receive it. That I speak highly of myself in tough moments, that in these moments I am doing my best. And that that is enough right now. That when my father tells me I’m an amazing mom, I hear it because I believe it. That when my partner tells me I am exactly as I should be, I know he’s right.

I need them to hear all of the amazing things, for them to believe it, and for them to receive this love. Sure I want them to be humble, to learn humility. But this doesn’t mean you don’t believe it. It simply means we own it and decide how to use it.

Recently, I watched a Ted Talks with Valarie Kaur called “3 lessons of revolutionary love in a time of rage“. She defines revolutionary love as made up of three things: the first being that we love ourselves, the second being that we love others, and the third being that we love our enemies.

We are terrible at self love. For some reason, we push the notion that we should love others yet we don’t even know how to love ourselves. It’s no wonder we are all so sick in this country. I do imagine that if we all loved ourselves more fully then maybe we wouldn’t focus so much on what we want to take or dismiss from others.

If cismen loved themselves deeply, would this remove the drive, the need to strip power from other genders? If white people embraced their own race with love and forgiveness, would we be more inclined to not hesitate in making reparations? If one religion believed that their beliefs rooted them in their wholeness, would it matter that other beliefs were held differently? If the U.S. loved itself enough to see its failures, would we stop claiming we are the best while simultaneously militarizing not just other countries but our own home?

If we love ourselves fully and are willing to receive love from others, then it must make it that much easier to love them back. And this includes those that may have harmed us or others. Valarie shares an example of this, forgiveness rooted in love. It’s amazing strength. It’s amazing humanity.

For my children, I will practice self love and accepting love. For me, I will work at receiving it, feeling it, embracing that I deserve all of it for simply being me. I will remind them of all of this, hoping they do the same as they continue to grow into this magical chaotic world. Today too, you should as well.

Here us an offering. Many of you I don’t know well, some I have never met. But this is no less true. Today I offer my love to you.

You are amazing. You are a gift from this earth. Perfectly created into every tiny cell. Perfectly created to thrive, excel, love, offer. You are brilliant, given the exact right body and mind to participate in this world exactly as you are meant to. You are one of earth’s greatest creations. You are love, are loved, and deserve all of the greatness that you are.