With Valentine’s Day approaching, there is a lot of buzz surrounding love and expressing that love with those we care about. I’m doing more writing lately, and I’m getting back into the “songwriting gym”, so to speak, to exercise my creativity and be more accountable to who I truly am and what I truly love. “Love” (and all of its myriad stages and phases) is a concept that has been and will always be a staple topic. As I was writing, I was looking for a word to more accurately convey the concept of “carefully” falling in love (oxymoronic, I know) and the word “share” came to mind to replace “give” as it relates to the intimate matters of the heart and all other things precious.
Think about what it means to give. First of all, in most cases, there are a number of preliminary stages that have already been successfully completed before a gift of any sort would even seem appropriate. This means we trust at minimum that 1) the person receiving the gift will be a worthy steward of the gift they’re receiving, and 2) the gift is appropriate for the nature of the relationship. Second, we don’t usually give trite or meaningless gifts…the gift always has some kind of value. Whether it’s monetary, sentimental, or whatever…it means something, no matter how simple, because some level of thought and energy went into choosing the “right” gift for the recipient. Third, when we “give” a gift, we release all claims to it once it’s transferred to the recipient. We have absolutely no say in what the recipient does (or does not do) with what we give them. We don’t even have a say over “how” they receive the gift. S/he can graciously receive it, half-heartedly receive it, take it and put it on a shelf, lock it in a vault, frame/encase it for display, re-purpose it, eventually forget they have it, or even return it if it turns out not to be to their liking. The same is true when we “give” our heart to someone. [For the purposes of keeping this from turning into a “counter-Valentine’s-y” note (because a WHOLE THESIS can be written on this), I won’t delve further into that just now. Just…”SELAH” (a Hebrew term I like, which roughly means “pause and think on that”).] But I believe we have all made this choice at one time or another.
Alternatively, we are taught from our earliest school years what it means to “share”. And in an effort to validate my “aha!” moment, I found this definition of the word: “To allow someone to…enjoy something that one possesses”. By this definition when we “share” something, we still retain what we’re presenting to another yet there is mutual enjoyment. Therefore, when we share our heart with those we love, we don’t completely “lose” ourselves to the whims and vicissitude of what we choose to allow our process of growing in love to become, but rather we continue to possess the fullness of ourselves while allowing another person to partake in and enjoy the same fullness. Notice I said “retain” and not “restrain”. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re withholding a portion of ourselves (again, refer back to being appropriate for the nature of the relationship), it simply means we remain responsible for and accountable to our essential selves without offering ourselves as a “free and clear” token of sacrifice on the altar of ambiguity and the unpredictability of being a human being in love. [And yes, we know that “perfect love casts out fear”, but since we’re not perfect neither is our love…so we must be realistic and recognize that trusting others enough to welcome them into the “all” of who we are (glorious and not-so-glorious) can be a scary thing…no matter how much each person thinks they know the other.]
On the surface it might appear to be a contradiction, because we are so accustomed to the idea that when we truly love someone (another “fluid’ concept), we must be willing to completely give ourselves without reservation in order for the relationship to work. But if we consider the fact that there are more failed marriages and partnerships based on this premise, it stands to reason that some reassessment is merited. As a society, we tend to romanticize what it means to be in love, putting almost the complete onus of our happiness in a relationship on the other person…this is EXTREMELY unfair and very frustrating – for both parties! Because before we met Prince Charming or Princess Grace, we operated from a certain level of contentment (or discontent, as the case may be) yet we somehow continue to fall prey to the belief that once we meet “the one”, all of our previous frustrations, disappointments, character flaws, or personal burdens will magically fade away…because “s/he will rescue me”. [We’ll all deny it, because it sounds and IS ludicrous…but subconsciously, we subscribe to it in varying degrees.] Yes, these discomforts feel lessened because we now have someone to distract us from focusing on some or all of these nuisances and/or to share these burdens of our lives with, but they don’t disappear altogether, and it’s impractical to expect it.
In all drinking ads, because of the various lawsuits there have been surrounding glamorizing drinking without encouraging responsible behavior, we hear or see the words “drink responsibly”. Along those same lines, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage each of us to “love responsibly”. Expecting our spouse or significant other to “fix” what a lifetime of living (including previous “mis-loves”) has done is irresponsible. When we give our heart to someone, and (just like a child who brings a broken toy to someone they “believe” can make it work properly again) stand there and wait for them to return it in better condition than how we gave it to them, we set the relationship up for ultimate failure. It is not their job to right all the wrongs previously done to us, or to attempt to overcompensate for other ill-fated experiences. The most responsible thing for us to do is be honest about who we really are (faults and all) and what [we “think”] we know we bring to the table (although our soulmate always manages to see more in us than we see in ourselves) and share that vastness with him/her…and prove ourselves worthy of having him/her do the same. We need to care enough to NOT give ourselves over to him/her…but rather consciously and deliberately share ourselves, while still remaining completely responsible for our own heart and happiness.
I know… We can all “argue” for or against either theory (because I certainly do still – after all, the various facets of Love and matters of the heart and soul are as infinite as the Source of creation). So whether you plan to share your heart with someone this “love season” or not, it’s just something I was thinking about…and I thought I’d “share” it with you.