“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift” – Steve Prefontaine
Me and my Mother -2015
Life is funny. How we start is not necessarily a guarantee on how we will finish. What we thought was true ten years ago may be different now for us today. How we define success changes and some of the people in our lives are no longer present, by the choices that we have made and by some of the circumstances we have faced. We make statements about what we know now and how our lives would be different if we had only made better choices when we were young and dumb. They say hindsight is 20-20, and hopefully we continue to learn as we get older. Hopefully the choices that we make today as mature adults look differently from our past decisions. And as we grow, hopefully we do not measure our lives by how educated we are or not, if we own a home or not or the amount of money we have in our bank accounts. Although these things are important and we should strive to live better lives than our forefathers and mothers, we need to remain mindful of what is truly important in life.
Since being back on Facebook for about one year now, I’m encouraged by the many voices of my childhood friends that seem to get it. Men and women alike that I grew up with recognize the value of it, my colleagues and business partners even see the value of it, but more importantly I see it. And that is the idea of giving our best love to our families, friends and even some strangers when required.
The one person that comes to mind more than anyone else that has sacrificially loved me beyond measure is, that’s right, my mother. When I look back at what she accomplished I see an amazing woman who has committed herself to being the best mom that any woman could ever be. Although there may not be a long list of titles behind her name, a house on the hill or other pedigrees we rightfully pursue, my mother gave me something that not only prepared me to obtain those superficial things, she gave me something inherently more valuable. She willingly gave me her best love.
Like so many of us that reflect on the goodness that has been bestowed upon our lives, usually our mothers are not far off from these sentiments. I was raised with three sisters and each of us are successful in our own right, but one thing that stands out for me, is we care for one another deeply and consider each other friends still. I attribute this desire to remain close to my siblings to the way my mother loved us as children. We obviously have our differences as adults, but I can say we genuinely love and care about one another. My mother was definitely the glue to our family connection and bond, which remains true to this day.
So why is this even worthy of mentioning and what is the significance of giving our best love? In my lowly opinion it pertains to everything that has been and will be ingrained in us. For those that have experienced the death of someone close, understanding this is easier. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters, but how we loved.
Giving our best love will cure the ails of the world in one swipe.
As I give my best love several amazing things are occurring simultaneously that look like this:
1. The life I exemplify will be worthy of following – I do not mean that you will lead a life of perfection, but when you make the choice to love first, you’re actually placing someone else’s needs before yours. For many this concept is counterintuitive, but when we’re motivated by love or selflessness we look to see how we can please others first. And when you have made this choice prior to any specific circumstance, bias and conditions are easily removed from the equation. This person may not always get things right, but they are consistently present. They are concerned, emotionally committed and they show up on time for real life events, planned or unplanned. They are the ones that leave indelible marks on hearts and minds forever.
2. I have an opinion, but I am not quick to accuse – This person waits to hear the entire story before giving their two-cents when asked. This requires discipline, because the temptation to speak prior to knowing all the facts is usually very enticing, but equally detrimental to at least to one of the persons involved. However once the dust settles the truth typically reveals itself, and because this individual is aware of this fact, their patience is essential and a key ingredient to sharing impactful wisdom versus making premature accusations. In a time of need this person is a welcomed sight because they truly want to help versus gossip, and they typically care about the outcome for all those involved.
3. I have a strong core, but a gentle spirit – There is nothing like meekness. It can often be mistaken for weakness, but by definition, it is strength under control. This person may have the ability to crush someone’s dream by divulging sensitive information that could embarrass or bring harm, yet they choose to exercise self-control during this time. They have profound wisdom and are usually more aware than what people give them credit for. They simply choose to walk in consideration of others, yet with firmness. This person will empathize with you, but never waver from his/her convictions. Their strength and gentleness combined become very calming during chaotic situations. They are excellent listeners and when they speak, an audience is usually there eagerly listening.
4. The truth will be spoken in love – Although the unadulterated truth can often hurt, it equally can release one from bondage or potentially dangerous situations. There is nothing like hearing it like it really is! Although we may get upset with this person, we come to appreciate them for their courage and ability to set us straight. The great thing about this person’s characteristics is they are not out to get us or see us fail, they simply want us to stop hitting our heads on the same walls. They force us to deal with ourselves versus allowing us to habitually take the easy route of blaming others. Without these courageous individuals in our lives we would be doomed to learn everything the hard way. They truly are a ray of light in the midst of a cloudy circumstance.
5. I accept you as you are – There’s nothing like acceptance. As we are all a masterpiece in progress, during the journey of getting to our finished product, we tend to look a hot-mess at times (present company included). And during this season, a friend that simply loves and accepts you as you are is critically important. Although many will proclaim to accept you when you are at your lowest, the proof is when you are there and recognize who is there with you. There you will find your true friends. These friends are not initially interested in facts, or the circumstances during an episode, they simply want to be there for you. They are consistent, steadfast and comforting. We could all stand to benefit from having at least one person like this in our lives. They are quick to lend a hand when we’re down and usually know us deeply like no one else does. We are freely vulnerable with them as our true selves are revealed and in progress of becoming more.
So as I stated in the beginning, “life is funny”. However sometimes it can be downright hard as well. And as we are being proven during difficulties, let us remember what we are made of and that we are precious creations made in God’s image through love. The best love we have is always in us, peeping out from the inside. We just need to realize that it is inside of us and someone nearby could stand to receive some of it from you. Whether it is these five points I have made or ones you can add to them, look to your point of reference to recall not only what it looked like, but more importantly how it made you feel when you needed it the most. For me it was my mother’s love. I say give that. That is the best love.