This post is written by contributing writer, Jen from This Gal’s Journey.
We live a circular life, this family of mine. Circular not only in the seeming monotony of a day to day routine (though even the most mundane task is far from dull with three children whose personalities are as big as the day is long), but in the revolving door that seems to usher relationships in and out of our lives at break neck speed.
Living in Ireland we get, as you can imagine, a large number of visitors throughout the year. Some are family, some friends, and some mere acquaintances or that ever-broad friend-of-a-friend. Add to those, the fact that our job entails welcoming and guiding different groups around the cultural sights of this amazing land, you have a veritable melting pot of people coming and going. Hellos and Goodbyes.
Through it all, my children amaze me. Each visitor is received with wide-eyed wonder and excitement. Grandparents bring promise of snuggles and stories and goodies. New friends bring exciting new ideas and smells and sounds. And once they meet you, friend, watch out. It doesn’t take much, and you’re in the club. Granted a lifetime membership. They love you.
They won’t just sort of love you; or love you if you bring them stuff. No. My kids love hard, and whole. They don’t hold their heart back. When they love you, it’s forever and it’s deep, even if they just met you two days ago and you’re leaving tomorrow. Despite the pain of countless goodbyes, they still let themselves fully love. I, on the other hand, hold back to ease my own pain.
I guard myself from the pain of truly connecting with someone; and take on the pain of my children as their hearts break one. more. time. I want to tell them not to let them all in so deeply. To guard their hearts; not accept so fully and then the pain won’t be as bad. But I can never quite bring myself to say those words to them.
I remember when my own heart loved so freely, deeply, unconditionally, with no regard for its own gain. I recall how over the years I painstakingly constructed a wall to keep out the pain of goodbyes. Disappointment. Nostalgia. I recognize how with each child came more bricks to protect this mother’s heart as it made that mysterious transition of both remaining in me and walking outside my body in the form of my daughters and son. And I am all too keenly aware of how I refuse, out of fear of pain, to truly love others the way I have been loved. So I take this lesson that my children so sweetly teach me time and time again and plant it in my heart with a seed of prayer that it will take root and grow. That it will break the mortar of fear and tear down the wall of gratuitous self-preservation so that the one and true protector – love – can flow deep in me and over others.
Oh, don’t worry, I’m not suggesting I will not instruct my littles to guard their hearts from those things which need guarding against. Yet, I can’t help but see as they love so freely, they are perfect little mirrors of that Perfect Love we all need.
So, friends, will you plant that seed with me? Will you tear down your wall of self-preservation and allow yourself to feel? To truly know others? To love?