As we go through life we sometimes take our relationships with those close to us for granted. Nature designed us to connect, to belong, and one of our greatest blessings is those people we share our life with. But sometimes we label each one who and what we design them to be, and we encounter conflict or disappointment. How much are we willing to let them be who they really are and still love them? Love flourishes when it's free to blossom according to it's own nature and not be constrained by our own human perceptions and requirements.
Until a few years ago I thought I knew the people in my life, and I took my perceptions of them for granted. Then one day I was struggling with a stressful situation, and I went to a friend looking for understanding, compassion and support to help me cope. I was very surprised when my friend half listened to my feelings and began telling me what I needed to do to fix the problem. I already knew what to do. I needed the strength to do it. But she didn't hear me. I was devastated, and felt even more alone.
I went to my minister, where I should have gone in the first place, and she explained something about people and relationships that I have always remembered and learned to use in my life. She said every person is given certain gifts, and we're all different. Some people are good at repairing broken items, some are good listeners, some help clarify, some make us smile, and some tell us how we should fix the problem. I hadn't noticed that my friend was a fixer. I thought I knew her. My minister advised me to take a second look at the people in my life, figure out what each one is able to give, and go where I know I will receive what I need. And figure out my own gift, and give that. Then I understood my friend's response to me. She gave what she had to give, and she loved me in her own way. After that I began understanding the people in my life better, and my love for them became more unconditional.
I think the following poem by Clifford Gessler says it well:
Let us know how not to ask too much of each other,
share who we are without giving up our freedom,
love without trying to absorb,
be kind yet not smother with kindness,
walk together but neither retard the other's pace.
I would not lead one who did not choose to follow
or follow one who demanded that I be led.
The spark of selfhood, that high and precious thing,
let us not dampen it with scorn or blame;
each his own master and the two of us
richer, dearer because of it,
but neither sunk passively in the other.
That alone is true loving.
I wish you freedom to love.