You hear it all the time. “You can’t choose who you love.” Whoever made up that corny, cliched phrase clearly doesn’t understand love. Of course you can choose who you love! And you choose it every day.
Okay, generally I’m not overly sentimental. But, heck, even a little blind kitty can be a softy sometimes, am I right? So go ahead and turn on your favorite chick flick or pour yourself a nice bubble bath while I take this (rare) moment to show my softer side. But if you’re expecting fluff and roses from now on, just remember that underneath all my luxuriously soft fur, I still have a super sharp set of paw swords that I’m not afraid to use.
Love can be defined as “a profoundly tender or passionate affection,” or “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection.” Geez. How cold and clinical that sounds! In my “eyes” love is a little more simple than that. It is a deep feeling of connection and tenderness that inspires selflessness. (Hey, Webster, can I get a shoutout for that one?) You see, to me, love and attraction are not at all the same thing. While you may not be able to choose whom you are attracted to, love is a choice. It is a direct result of your actions, not the actions of others.
Really, in this sometimes difficult, sometimes confusing life, it all comes down to cultivating love with yourself and with everyone else (the naked and the furry alike). No success, fame, or fun will compensate for lack of love. And no poverty, trials, or sorrow can overwhelm you if you are surrounded by love.
You wanna know a secret? There is really only one way to find peace and happiness in this life. That is through love and service. Simple as that. Don’t say I never gave you anything. If only humans were as wise as us felines (and I’ll reluctantly add canines in here, also). Love unconditionally. Give every bit of yourself to someone.
Unfortunately, humans can sometimes be jerks (sorry, but I’ll include you – yes you! – in that statement occasionally, as well). It can be hard to love some people. So how do you love the unlovable? Through charity. Depending on the interpretation of the New Testament, charity and love are sometimes used interchangeably. But it’s more than just a feeling, or more than just giving money to the poor. Charity is pure love, selfless love. It is independent of the actions or reactions of others.
It is impossible to hate, to hold grudges, to withhold forgiveness from those you serve selflessly (not begrudgingly). Instead of meeting anger and aggression with anger, next time meet it with tenderness, empathy, and patience. Meet it with a simple act of service. Yes, it is quite difficult to do. But, then, doesn’t that let you know that I’m right?
When you choose who you love, that does not mean the tenderness will always be reciprocated. And that’s okay. That’s not the point. It’s easy to love the sweethearts, the gentle souls of the world (you know, like me).
If you never listen to me again, if you don’t hear anything I say ever again, please hear this. I’m talking about that one person in your life, you know of whom I speak. Is it your boss, coworker, spouse or partner, family member, the customer you dread at work? Maybe you have more than one person. You dread being around them. They make your life miserable. You seriously have the power to fix it. Not to change them (you can’t and shouldn’t try). But to change you. Because if you are unhappy in a relationship, you are the one who needs to change.
Every day, every interaction with that person, make it an act of selfless service (infused with thought and empathy). Give them your time. Give them a (genuine) smile. Have patience. And above all, listen to them. Really understand what they are saying, how they feel. And respond kindly. Truly, genuinely pray for them (not for them to change – just for their happiness and well-being). Do something kind (a gift, a sincere card of appreciation, help them with a task). Just give selflessly, with no thought of changing them, no thought of how they will respond to you.
When they pour out the drink you got them, complain that the chocolates you got will make them fat, or get angry that you misspelled their dog’s name on the nice card you sent, love them still. Serve them still. Have patience still. And never waiver. Never, as long as you and they are alive. If you don’t believe people can change, well, you will after practicing what I’m telling you. Because after a short while (albeit a difficult and frustrating while), you will realize that you have changed.
And you will know for sure that you can choose who you love.
In finding peace and unconditional love with others, don’t forget to love yourself. Your beautiful, wonderful, caring, messed-up, confused, perfect self. We are all created to see our own flaws so that we can work to improve ourselves. But sometimes this overshadows how amazing we all are. But you must be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself as you would your own child. Be encouraging and supportive, no matter how many times you fail. Cause, you’re gonna fail.
Failures are such a tiny blip of who you are. So, as soon as you stop reading this, here is your homework. Go look at yourself in the mirror. Just go. Wrinkles? Cellulite? Big nose, flat butt, bald spot, no eyes? Not the smartest, richest, most accomplished person, perfect mom, etc? Now, look at yourself as if you were your mother or best friend. What do you see? You are imperfect, but you are adored, loved, cherished, and essential. Say it. Say it every day. And be kind to yourself. You are the only you this world has, so make the best of it! So when you choose who you love, choose to love yourself!
For more reading or viewing on the subject of love and forgiveness, here are a few great resources:
And in case you missed it, you can watch here my goofy brothers demonstrating sibling love (and sibling rivalry).
Until next time (remember to love others, love yourself, and)… Keeping Pebbles Strong!