Love isn’t a state of perfect caring… To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now. –Fred Rogers
Maybe that’s why most of us experience such disappointment over love in our lives. We’ve defined it wrongly, and so we expect things to happen that don’t happen. And we always seem surprised about what does happen. If we realized that love isn’t supposed to be some kind of joyride all the time, but rather a struggle, our expectations might be more in line with reality.
We don’t love someone because they’re perfect. They may seem perfect, at first, but they’re not, and we eventually find that out. Then, the challenge is to continue to love them, warts and all. This is just as true of our children and our parents as it is of our friends and significant others. It can be painful to watch them get hurt and make mistakes. It can be frustrating when they are stubborn and contentious. It can be downright embarrassing, sometimes, when they do and say foolish things. It can be heartbreaking when they fail and suffer.
The key is not to try to change the other person, but to try to change ourselves. As we go through life, we learn the qualities necessary to love others: patience, perseverance, humility, grace, loyalty, trustworthiness, reliability, honesty, kindness, open mind, open heart, discipline, forgiveness, responsibility, even temper, courage, attentiveness, optimism, balance, and appreciation. Our interactions with our loved ones give us ample opportunity throughout our lives to cultivate these very important qualities in ourselves.
Most of the time, we fail to notice how our loved ones have changed us. We wait until a person dies or moves away to realize what a big impact they have had on us, how they changed our lives. A really good exercise in cultivating gratitude is to carve out a few moments from our busy schedules every so often on a regular basis, just to appreciate the positive ways that our loved ones have affected us.
All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. –Fred Rogers