At a recent church service we sang a song about reckless love. At the time I knew that I wanted to share the “love and support of others” as my fourth, and final, gift in this series. But, the idea of reckless love felt more like me. It better describes the risks we take on love. It portrays the ways that I have felt loved by so many.
That day I held back tears and swallowed a giant lump in my throat as I pondered the reckless love that I have received. And, I also vowed to put a lot more effort into recklessly loving. And as I moved forward through the week, my eyes opened to the ways that I have been holding back.
- Instead of confronting or removing toxicity, I waste energy on people pleasing (because it feels “easier.”)
- I often try to control people instead of supporting their ability to make their own decisions.
- I fall into a victim mindset and blame circumstances or others for my need to pull back.
- I take things too personally and become afraid that if I reach out in love, I will be rejected. Afraid that I will be hurt.
- I can be unkind and unloving to myself when I make decisions that don’t honor my values.
I want to be reckless with my love. And FYI, reckless is defined as: (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequence of an action.
Don’t worry- I am not talking about doing crazy things against the wishes of others. I am talking about loving without fear of rejection. Without worrying whether or not I will receive the same amount of love in return. To go all in on my relationships, in my communities, and supporting my causes. To openly share my feelings with others. To encourage more. To not wait for the other person to hug me, or say I love you. But to boldly go for it.
I have been so recklessly loved. By my family of origin, my husband, my children, so many beautiful friends, teammates, strangers, acquaintances, (and God). This love is not perfect. But I still trust that it is there.
When I feel love, I show up to my life. I smile and laugh more. I serve more and better. I nourish my body. I ask for what I need. I want to lift heavier and push each interval harder. I want to go easy when it is time to. I sleep well. I connect deeply with myself and with others— not only with my family and friends, but with humanity.
The cool thing about all of this? Although others can express loving gestures, when we feel love it is because it is in us. Love is a gift we give ourselves. And love feels so damn good.
How can we recklessly love?
- Love yourself. Easier said than done, right? It is a lifelong journey, and since you are always evolving will never arrive at a finish line. Be curious. See your own strengths and lean into your weaknesses. It is true that love is scary, so be kind to yourself when you feel afraid. You don’t need to be “fixed” for any reason— you are lovable as you are today.
- Listen to your thoughts. Connect with yourself so that you can understand your limiting ones. Replace lies with truth. Have some mantras handy that you believe to be true when your brain gets tricky. Consider how our culture influences love and challenge those ideas.
- Try to make peace with loss. Loving is reckless. It is so damn risky. And you will hurt deeply when you love. But, there is no risk more worth the effort it takes to get there. Stop protecting yourself.
- When you find yourself in relationships that do not honor your current values, establish boundaries. Sometimes you can love others better with some clear physical and emotional space. Love is not constant anger, disappointment, cattiness, bossiness, or full of gossip. If you are resentful of someone you used to enjoy, examine the relationship and decide how you can change your heart, or possibly lovingly end it.
- Work with unbiased professionals. Good therapists can help you understand obstacles and define what triggers your fear, which puts a halt to love.
When you love there will be loss. People will change. They will die. Someone likely will betray you. It will hurt so bad that you will wonder how you will ever heal. (And if this is you today, please reach out.)
It takes so much courage to love fully. Love who you are, and at the same time practice loving others.
Merry Christmas to you,