I totally believe this.
On a fundamental level.
Why then, is it so hard for my behavior to come in line with this belief?
I am pretty good about loving my kids, animals, parents and self. The last one took me a long time to get there but I do, in fact, love me now. I am not hating myself every day and desperately seeking someone to come and rescue me from me. I have always loved my kids, animals and parents. Always. Although ever since I fell in love with me, I feel like I love them all better now. More wholly and completely and with less anger and resentment. I don’t know if they would agree...I will ask them. Novel idea. Ask those we love, how we can love them better...GENIUS!
And I love my friends. I love my Tribe. I love my close friends and I love my more distant ones. I love them and would help them if they needed me. I love them for who they are and try to not demand that they provide me with things that they can’t. I just see who they are and I love them.
If I believe that all human beings are worthy of love and deserve love, why did I spend so much time not being loving toward all?
It appears upon examination I didn’t really believe that everyone deserved love. I, instead, used my love as a reward for those that I deemed were worthy and the withdrawal of my love for those that were not. I didn’t really believe that everyone deserved love. It was a throw away thing to say...I didn’t really believe it because you could see that principle as being missing in my interactions.
So what has changed?
Me. I have changed. I have come to see that I do really believe that everyone deserves love. And I am willing to practice it...which is hard. Much harder than using love as a reward or punishment.
Let’s use my neighbor as an example...
She is not nice. She is angry and is constantly and persistently upset with everything I do. She makes negative and hostile comments over the fence. All the time. She yells at my children. Before I started practicing that everyone deserves love, she used to irritate the fuck out of me. I didn’t like her and I wished that she would go away. I wanted my life to be more pleasant and enjoyable and she is a major kill joy.
What she has taught me is that I do not have to like everyone that I love. I mean, I do if they are going to be an integral part of my life. But the periphery people in line at the grocery store, random strangers on the street, casual encounters in life, them I do not have to like. But I do choose to love them. I really do want to be such a loving force that no matter what they say or do, I just love them anyway. No exceptions.
Now, I fail at this all the time. And that is ok. It is the practice that is important not the end result. I have decided that the best and most helpful use of my time is to practice loving all the time. And then be interested in the data I get back:
Oops, I didn’t just love my neighbor because I called her the wicked witch in my head.
Oops I didn’t just love that person in front of me in line at Vons because they took too fucking long.
Oops I didn’t just love the person driving in front of me because I called them an asshole when they didn’t give a signal that they were turning.
Oops, I did it again...all day, every day.
But I SEE it now. I see where love fails to thrive in my life. I see where I can do better. I see where I am lacking. I see what the conditions are that cause me to shut down my heart and harden. I see it now and that has made all the difference. Every time I fail, I get to see that I am still choosing not to love everyone and then can adjust (or sometimes I can’t adjust) my behavior.
The best part of this practice, I get to love. Loving is the best. Loving makes my life mine. I have always had a great amount of love to give but what I got wrong was in the parceling it out...wrong! I am supposed to give it to everyone, all the time. But I am not required to like everyone that I am giving it to. The liking part is what I use discernment for...do not let people I do not like in close. Love them but allow for there to be a lot of space between me and them.
So in my trials and tribulations, I will learn where I am practicing the principle and where I am failing. This is what loving everyone shows me, where I am still stuck and stubborn and confused and lost. This is where I get to try again, and again and again.
The ultimate payoff of loving everyone? I get to be a more loving person. And that makes all the effort worthwhile, even with my neighbor.