A recent chat with a friend kept circling a theme that’s been hidden in my heart for a really long time: Sometimes love is hard.
I think on the surface, I know this to be true. Loving other people (and especially myself) takes a lot of effort. Loving strangers is easy because I don’t know enough about them to have any real judgements about them—or any history of being hurt by them. I can share all day long about how it’s all sunshine and rainbows to share love with a stranger, but loving people I’m actually in a relationship with is much more of a challenge. It requires deeper connection and intention...it requires forgiveness and grit.
Last week my daughter’s elementary school had a dress up day where the theme was “Vocabulary”. She was supposed to pick a word she didn’t know and dress in a way that showed the definition of the word. She’s in first grade, and chose the word “unconditional”. We talked about the definition in terms of love. I explained “unconditional” to her by saying: “the kind of way I love you is unconditional. You don’t have to do anything good or bad—I love you no matter what.”
I realized how easy it is to say this to my 7 year old who is cute and sweet and so full of magic.
But loving other people in my life isn’t as easy. It’s complicated and messy and painful. Some of these people have hurt me so deeply. They’ve left me with a broken heart and gaping wounds. They treat me with disregard and make me feel disposable, unimportant and used. How do I possibly love them when they are not safe people for me to be in relationship with?
And loving myself on days that I don’t perform the way I had hoped or meet the goals I have set for the day feels impossible. I easily get disappointed with myself for falling short of my own expectations.
And lately what I’ve realized is that even in all the hard parts, it’s still ok. It’s ok that sometimes loving others is a massive struggle. It’s ok that sometimes it’s hard to allow yourself to feel loved. None of us are super humans—we can’t always be perfect at everything. There’s room to struggle, there’s grace in feeling challenged, and there’s unconditional love that sometimes seems like a mountain we’ll never climb.
No matter where you fall in the journey, I hope you know how much power there is in being open and vulnerable as you take each baby step down the path.