I spend time on Facebook every day, and it's often a nurturing experience as the people I follow are pretty amazing teachers, healers, thinkers, and human beings. Today I read several things gave me a kind of mixed feelings. Sometimes political posts, news about people, and even comments about the weather carry opinions that I agree with but something about them doesn't sit right.
This morning what I felt (kind of judgmentally, I know) is that the posts weren't coming from love. Even when a comment is general or is directed at someone who will probably never see it, it kind of puts me off the opinion that I actually share.
I found myself asking, 'What would love say?" And because parenting is important to me, both as a central part of my own spiritual development and as something I talk and teach about every day, I quickly started to think about this in the context of parenting. What would love do? What would love say? Aren't these the only real questions I need to ask?
And it isn't as black and white as I initially thought. Because I need to also know, love of what? If I'm driven by love of my own child's comfort and he is hurt by a friend, love may want me to protect and defend him. But if I'm driven by capital-L Love, my response is not so simple. I may remember that I want to help him cultivate his own power and respond slowly. I may remember that all situations are complex and invite him to talk and share about his experience without doing anything. I may remember that loving him does not mean attacking someone else.
Similarly, if you have a small child and you're in the habit of indulging their wants, you may begin to realize that you're loving your own short-term comfort at the expense of your longer-term sanity and their longer-term health and emotional growth. How would it change if you were moved by Love? Would it be easier to handle the tantrums or sadness that come up when you say 'no' to a toy or treat? Would it help you to sustain the work involved in getting them into more sustainable sleep routines?
So I'm adding a step. When I start with wondering what love would do, I like to explore a little more deeply. Love of what? If 'love' wants to shoot off a snarky comment on Facebook, love of what? Love of being right or of standing up for an underdog? And would 'Love' agree? Or would it say nothing? Or say something privately? Or make a comment that speaks to the confusion within me? Or (and this is usually where Love takes me) explore my own being, wondering what this discomfort can teach me about myself and my own relationship to judgment or kindness or deep understanding? And maybe there's a loving or compassionate action associated with this exploration, or maybe there isn't.
This is what I'm wondering about today.
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.