“What difference has love made in your life?” The young woman who asked this question was deeply serious.
I took a deep breath and replied, “One of the biggest differences that love has made is that I no longer have to be ‘more than’ in order to be enough.”
Over the years as a marriage and family therapist, I have watched clients who were raised in families that were incredibly performance based grab onto this truth. Their childhood had taught them that love would be removed if they weren’t at the top of their game. In their homes, they often heard these words, “You got an “A”, why not an “A+”? It felt to them that they were loved or rejected on the basis of how they performed.
Fear became their motivator. “I have to be ‘better than’ in order to be enough.” The seeds of perfectionism were planted in a soil running deep with feelings of inadequacy. A life of acting began. A life of living behind masks, a life of hiding was embarked on. Yet love can’t reach us there. We isolate in terror, afraid to let anyone see who we really are and how scared we really are.
Only our masks get loved, we don’t. In moments of authenticity we know that we are not our mask.
Yet we have become addicted to validation. We only feel loved when we are admired. We are dependent on the reflection of competence we see in the eyes of others. Their validation is intoxicating yet the high is temporary. In a second we find ourselves hungry for more validation. We constantly feel like we’re not working hard enough, doing enough or performing enough.
Do you believe that love is based on what you do or don’t do? Do you believe that love has to be earned?
If we happen to be married, we are often critical of our mate for not doing enough or being enough.
When fear dominates, Love dissipates!
When we are on the treadmill of performance, running as fast as we can, but getting no closer to intimacy and love, God’s still small voice keeps whispering through the life of Jesus Christ, ”Slow down my child. Hear these words, ‘I love you, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU.’ Nothing you do or don’t do will make me love you more or less. My love for you is constant.”
Can we trust anything that wonderful to be true? Surely not! Sounds like a myth, doesn’t it? Yet what if it is true? What if love, true love, has no ifs, ands or buts attached to it? What if there is no expectation to live up to? What if there is just a possibility to live into?
What if love rather than fear became my motivation?
What if love freed me to peek out from behind my mask? What if love dared me to face my failures, my inadequacies and yet still be worthy of love? What if love settled me rather than distracted me?
What if who I am is enough?
How would that transform the way I do relationships? If the question, “Am I loved?” is no longer an issue, perhaps I’d give more grace to myself and others. I’d be more willing to be vulnerable. I could admit fear. I would be able to say I was wrong and ask for forgiveness.
I would be willing to forgive. I could be human. I could admit it when I needed a hug! I could give a hug to someone else in pain. I could stop running. I could relax. I could stop focusing on my mistakes and failures and defining myself on the basis of the past and I could learn from those same mistakes and failures.
I could be kind to my partner when he/she also makes mistakes. I could let go of control and value connection and curiosity. Resentment, retaliation, and acting out could be removed from my tool kit.
I could set boundaries on my own judgments and critical spirit. I could stop tolerating my anti-love behavior. I could hear my lover say, “no” and respect it. I also could say, “no”.
I could refrain from withdrawing love when my mate disappoints me. I could value my mate’s freedom to be a separate person. I could connect emotionally with someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with me.
I could disagree without being disagreeable!
How would your marriage be transformed if you truly understood how much God loved you and you really understood that “you are enough”?
Then what if you chose to love your mate in that way?
What difference would love make?
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…