Over the past few years, I’ve learned that LOVE means many different things to different people. Thanks to The Five Love Languages, we know people can express love one way while the one we are loving may receive it quite another.
Regardless of the semantics and behavior of love, one thing is sure, it’s the most powerful thing in the Universe. Truly, the joy of loving and being loved by another soul is the essence of all that is good in life. Love is what we all long to embrace and give, even when we get in our own way.
When I answered GMP’s call for submission, (and who isn’t grateful to GMP for giving us so many great articles about loving others,) I began reflecting on this question.
My little boy Andrew immediately came to mind. Andrew was not quite seven years old when he died in 2003 from mitochondrial disease. It’s easy for parents who lose children to heroize or think their child extraordinary, and perhaps on a spiritual level, those that are only here for a short time are indeed, special. But my boy, he was all about the LOVE.
Andrew had always seemed insightful in a way that many adults can’t be. From the time he was four years old, Andrew would run outside when he saw someone pulling in the driveway, quickly give them a squishy hug and offering them a drink. He had that radical hospitality thing down. Even more than what he said or did, was the love that radiated from his eyes. The thing that I, and many others, remember most about him was how extravagantly he loved. He somehow knew how to love the unlovely, or perhaps even loved them more.
A few months after Andrew died, I was challenged to come up with a family mission statement. As I started pondering what would be our truest mission, I realized that Andrew had already given it to us. If the imprint of his life could be summed up in one phrase, what he taught those around him, was “to love beyond what I can see!” This became my personal mission, both in a way to honor Andrew’s legacy, but also because it’s truly who I want to be!
As I thought about this question of what kind of lover I am, I thought I would ask two significant men in my life to evaluate me with a one-word answer. I first asked my favorite and most compatible lover, and his response was “passionate.” Although I expected his answer to be something like “enthusiastic,” I felt honored by the word he chose.
As a lover, I practice passionate love by exuding my sensuality, my emotion and affection on a spiritual level, in a way words just don’t emanate. Passion certainly extends to the way I love my children, friends and those in my path and I often wonder if the words and actions I use to display it, show the true depth of my love for them.
The second man I asked is my dear friend, Jeff. Jeff is intuitive heart-reader and when invited, will lovingly encourage you and/or call you on your shit. We share a desire for the honest communication most can’t handle, and I love him for it! When asked him how he sees me love the people in my life and my world at large, he said “Open-hearted.” It made me smile, as it validates Andrew’s legacy, for me to love beyond what I can see. I long to connect with others by being the kind of person who creates a judgment-free and safe space for people to be their most authentic selves.
In my day to day life, I’m the white adoptive mother of four children who are black, some who have special needs and medical conditions, and my daughter is gay. We pretty much, like GMP says, eat stereotypes for lunch, or at least get a lot of inquisitive looks our way while eating lunch together. I’ve also turned my calling of LOVE into a career and have been a life, love and dating coach for almost four years now. It’s a joy to help others get out of their own way, learn to experience more love in their life and find what they truly want in a partner!
In my growing concern about what sort of world we are creating for my children, I have become more passionate about social justice, both as a writer and a citizen. I’m grateful to use my voice to help even one person see things from a new perspective and be more loving to their neighbors.
Writers often do not know how their words have impacted others. I wrote an article in July 2016 about being a white mom to black kids that went viral and got so many amazing letters from other people, but that was an exception and not the norm. Sometimes I write things and never know if they mattered to anyone at all, but you know what? My kids will never doubt I SAW them . . . their pain…their marginalization thrust on them by the socially-outdated in America…and tried to make it just a little better. The passion in all of this is as consistent as the passion I show with a lover.
In my coaching business, both the open-heartedness and the passion spill over into helping people in today’s modern dating remember how to be more kind as daters. I teach clients that the people they meet online and go on a first date with are indeed, PEOPLE, and deserve their full presence . . . if only for one hour of their life. Seeing beyond looks, chemistry and resume is so key…you never know who you may “love beyond what you can see” if you give yourself the chance.
This mental exercise of asking myself what kind of lover I am in the bedroom and in the world, has made me realize that for all of us, authentic love should be consistent both places. And to be someone who wants to make the world just a little better, whether I am in the intimate arms of a lover or in the friendly arms of those I’m closest to, or hugging a complete stranger, it all starts with a little passion and open-heartedness.
Photo: Getty Images