February 16, 2005

Give It Away

You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments when you really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.
-- Henry Drummond

Love can make us do crazy things sometimes. It will make us do things that we never dreamed we would ever do. It will make us lay ourselves on the line, even when we've been wronged, just because we love someone.

Many years ago a family member was having marital problems. [She] had two small children, whom I loved and adored, and I felt that I needed to help in whatever way I could. Through many months (years, really) of discord in [her] family, I stood by [her]. Yet every time I extended my hand to help [her], it seemed like [she] resented me for it.

I continued to give of my time, energy, money, thoughts, prayers. Eventually we reached a point at which neither of us could stand the other. I had given everything I could to her but it seemed like it just wasn't enough for [her].

I felt as though I were being attacked by [her] because of the good things I had done for [her]. It was very confusing. Not only did I feel attacked personally, but I also felt as though other members of my family were being attacked. I did not like this at all.

I reached a point where I said enough was enough. Up went the brick wall. And let me tell you, it was tall and wide! I constructed it so that [she] (and others) would never be able to "get" me and hurt me again.

My heart hardened against [her]. It got so bad that every time I looked at [her], I would become physically ill because of my ill feelings towards [her].

Now, years later, we have worked through these differences. Life has taught both [she] and I many lessons. [Her] life has reached a settling point, and mine, a place of forgiveness.

I look back now on all those years of learning with a smile in my heart. It was extremely difficult to go through that process. But if you asked me if I would do it all over again my answer will always be, "Yes!"

I didn't give of myself out of a feeling of "duty". I was there for [her] because I love [her]. No matter what comes or goes, no matter if a stumbling block is placed in our path again, I would do it all over again. It was in those moments, challenging as they were, that I learned to love unconditionally. I learned that love isn't love until you give it away--no strings attached.