If we live long enough, we eventually get to test our strength. I call it the Olympics of life. It’s when you work, run or struggle as hard as you can for a period of time, and collapse when it’s over. I reached that moment today, after standing by my husband through his near-death experience in surgery and a rocky recovery. The past three weeks in the hospital were some of the most personally and physically taxing of my life. Yet I learned an invaluable lesson.
I used to think that love was something you did for a desired outcome. It was either given or received with an expectation. I thought I was giving unconditional love until I didn’t get the “thank you” I was hoping for, or I didn’t see the other person’s face light up. Then I felt bad, even resentful. But the three weeks in the hospital changed all of that. My husband had no energy to say anything for a while, never mind smile. Yet, my love remained a laser beam.
My elder son helped me recognize that unconditional love is not about the outcome, but about the joy of giving simply because you love the other person unconditionally. This is not possible however, without balancing love of another with love of self. The need for self-care is in direct proportion to the amount of output. Now that we’re home safely, I’m exhausted and am going to turn in early.
As the Olympics are starting in Sochi, Russia, I am holding up my own torch. It comes with my new slogan:
What experience(s) have you had that tested your strength of love?