The Lessons Are Love, an excerpt from Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie
Lessons of love, that’s what they are.
We usually don’t know what the lesson is while we’re learning it. Maybe we’re not supposed to. Besides, if we knew it, really knew it, we wouldn’t need to learn it. We’d already be practicing it in our daily lives. But when we don’t know what the lesson is, we can know one thing: it’s a lesson of love.
Courage. Faith. Patience. Loving ourselves when it looks and feel likes nobody else cares. Starting over again one more time, when we think we’ve already started over again more times than we should have had to. Forgiveness. Compassion. Gentleness. Joy. Each one is a lesson of love.
For many of us, the problem isn’t that we haven’t had love in our lives before. The issue is that we haven’t understood love. Know this: not only are the lessons about love, the lessons themselves are love.
Feel your feelings. Struggle through your situations and experiences and emotions. The struggle to learn isn’t incidental to your purpose. It’s an integral part of your purpose, your destiny, your reason for being. Go through your moments of darkness and confusion, and trust that the light will come. Through it all, rest in one thought: you’re on track. You’re on your path.
You’re connected to love. You’re connected to the Universe. And the lessons you’re learning are lessons of love.
Today I sat down to do some reading and grabbed one of my instant sources of inspiration off my nightstand – Journey to the Heart. I flipped back a few pages to this date, July 19 – the date I got engaged, and found this beautiful passage. It put into perspective the past 11 years of me and Andy’s relationship and all the lessons and experiences we have gained that have led us to where we are today.
Courage. There have been times where we have had to admit our wrongdoings, even if it crushed the other person. There was a time when we agreed to give each other space to grow, even if it meant we could grow in opposite directions. There are often times where we tell each other our deepest fears, show our vulnerability, and admit that we don’t know who we are or who we’re meant to be. Andy has taught me that it takes an incredible amount of courage to always be exactly who you are, flaws and all.
Forgiveness. We have to forgive each other daily for little things like miscommunication about who will let the dogs out or whether we have set plans for the weekend. We’ve also had to forgive each other for big things that at the time we thought were unforgivable. Andy has taught me that it hurts a whole lot more to hold on than to let go.
Compassion. We haven’t had many big fights as a couple, but we’ve had fewer and fewer in the past year, thankfully. We do, however, get into a few arguments here and there (often when I’m hangry: hungry + angry), and each time we get into a stalemate, one of us has chosen to break out of the anger or frustration to say, “This is not love and this is not us. Why are we doing this?” Andy has taught me that when we argue, I am not at my core; I am off center. I say “I” on purpose, not “we” because we each have to take the responsibility to improve our own way of thinking and not expect it of the other person. When we can each break the cycle of anger and come from a place of compassion on our own, we speak our truth and we demonstrate compassion.
Loving ourselves when it looks and feels like nobody else cares. There have been times when I’ve been in a funk that I can’t shake, and I take a negative attitude in to our home. I have totally pulled the line, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And it’s the truth. There are times when you can’t depend on someone else to love and care for you because what you really need is love from the inside out. When you love yourself to the core, other people perceive this, and it’s contagious. My friend always says, “Be the type of person you want to meet.” I believe this wholeheartedly. I take a little time each day for my yoga practice, meditation, writing, reading, or catching up with a friend. This is crucial time that Andy realizes is necessary for me to restore and get centered, and he has also begun to ask for time to himself as well. It may seem selfish or like we are deprioritizing each other at surface level, but in the end, this valuable time makes us all the better for each other. I’m so thankful we both respect this need, and it helps us live harmoniously.
Patience. I’ve waited a long time for this day. And now that it has arrived, I’m not only glad I waited, I firmly believe it happened at the exact time it was meant to happen. I used to always be on the go and in execution mode – planning, doing, accomplishing. I never took time to pause and enjoy the moment. In the time we’ve spent together, I have grown to love being alone, to cherish the quiet, and to savor in doing nothing. Andy is a constant reminder of presence and patience; when he sees that I’m too in my head, he suggests that I meditate. Andy on the other hand, can be very introspective, but in the past few years, our lines of communication have increased exponentially. He’s helped me find clarity, peace of mind, and also freedom through open communication. I’ve also helped him realize that he doesn’t have to live up to inconceivable expectations and that he is not only good enough, he is the most perfect complement to me. Actually, he’s not only my complement, but rather we both push each other to be the best version of ourselves and to continually grow. It has taken years to figure ourselves out as individuals and also as a unit, but we chose to stick it out and worked hard at it. In the end, patience and trust prevailed.
Joy. We don’t make many grandiose gestures of love. We don’t really buy each other gifts; we don’t make a huge deal about our anniversary; we don’t always accompany each other to big social events. But every day, we celebrate the small joys of life. We hug or “connect” every day for a few moments. We talk about our ambitions, concerns, and purpose in life. We practice yoga in the living room. We sit side by side and breathe. I prep food and clean while he cooks. He starts the laundry and I fold. We two-step around the living room to Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band. We don’t really expect much of each other, but we have learned to cherish the moments we have together whole heartedly. And it’s because we embrace these pure, simple joys that we are now ready for the next step in our relationship.
Since we were 18, we have witnessed each other change, evolve, and mature during arguably the most tumultuous time of our lives. Our path has not been a conventional one, but it has led us to the exact place we are supposed to be, I’m sure of it. We have an epic love that’s also a normal kind of love. I’m grateful for the abundant lessons of love. I’m grateful that the lessons are love.
I am in love. I am loved. I am love. I am thrilled and excited for the next chapter and welcome the new lessons with an open heart!