“I was at whole foods and thought I’d pick up your favorite chocolate and a journal as I know you like to reflect and write”
A dear friend stopped by last weekend and these were her words. We hugged tight and my heart was overflowing with love and more importantly gratitude and appreciation of how much I was loved and how blessed I was to have this beautiful relationship in my life. In a season of life where the enormity and intensity of work, kids and everything else in between can be so all consuming, there is something incredibly magical about creating intentional moments of giving and receiving love and experiencing the ripple effects that come with it.
And in many ways, it is hard…
It’s much easier for me to give than to receive or rather ask for when I need love – It takes courage, it feels vulnerable, I never know if I will receive love in the way I want it, there is always a risk of rejection and judgment and in many ways, it’s much easier and safer to not lean in that far in any relationship. I have had multiple moments (including one last night) where tears trickled down my cheeks as I reflected on the pain of rejection, of not being understood or appreciated or valued for how much I am leaning in and how important certain relationships and commitments are.
And yet, when I do with the right people in the right ways, life feels richer. I live in a world and at a time where I am encouraged to be more independent and self-sufficient and while it absolutely has its merits, there is also something deeply meaningful that comes with asking for help not because I can’t do it on my own but because there is more love, more connection and in many ways so much more joy knowing that I am a part of a community of love, a part of something that is larger than myself.
I always find so much meaning leaving my kids with a neighbor even though we are all defaulting to sitters watching kids these days and I do struggle and get anxious if I am being a burden on them but I once had a friend remind me – “Neha, if it’s at a mutually convenient time, know that you are giving me an opportunity to love your kids and for them to know that they are loved by other adults beyond their parents” – a hugely powerful statement
And, it is still hard to ask a friend to make time for dinner when it is hugely important to me to spend time together when I have heard no 3 times or ask a loved one to watch the kids when they have not followed through on a past commitment. And it is a fine balance – sometimes wisdom is in taking a step back and sometimes it is about leaning in stronger and in being even more vulnerable and letting that love be known and seen even with its risks. Sometimes, I know what to do but sometimes I must simply be with the difficulty and the pain and the uncertainty.
Managing my own expectations in this cycle of love is something I need to continue to work on. I must constantly remind myself that love comes in different shapes and forms and that everyone’s desire, need and ability for connection is different in the seasons of life and to recognize that a rejection to my ask may not (always) mean the lack of commitment into the relationship. And there is also a tinge of judgment that can show up. I have learnt that some people can use my story of vulnerability and needing love to boost their own ego and build a story of how their life is better than mine. I must constantly be reminding myself of who needs to know my truth and what relationships simply need to be pruned away from my life.
Most importantly, is the savoring of all this love, this sheer abundance of love in my life. Writing is one incredible way for me to do that. On other days, it means closing my eyes for a minute and literally soaking in the good. Pictures do that for me too and I am finally finding my way back to Instagram to capture the moments and memories that matter and contribute to the stories and messages I want to add into the world – those of love, connection, gratitude and vulnerability. And finally, the most important part is to truly pay love forward, to the people I receive it from but also to the rest of the world even if it’s in small ways. It’s about saying thank you graciously and finding meaningful and purposeful ways to show up, to express love, to celebrate the joys and provide support during tough times. It’s about pausing even when there doesn’t feel like there is any time to pause and about re-calibrating my priorities to make sure I can really pause for what truly matters – love for humanity at large…