“Mommy, let’s paint it purple!” my daughter exclaimed as we were playing at a school playground on a Saturday morning. She handed me an imaginary paintbrush and pointed to where I should paint. Together, we “painted” the metal bars. We were princesses, painting our castle purple. It was a joyful morning, playing with my daughter and allowing her to lead the way, living out her imagination right there on the playground. She and I were alone, and we had two hours to play before we had to pick up her older sister. I thought it was going to be a very long two hours, but my little girl led the way and we danced, “painted”, climbed, sang, raced, twirled, slid, and laughed. As we played together, it was as if I had gone back in time and was a little girl again. Her joy and exuberance were contagious. She reminded me of a phrase I have come to love: “man is that he might have joy.”
As humans, we are created to experience joy, and what better way to experience joy than to fully immerse yourself in play and connect with your children! This is a great example of Living Love. I haven’t always been able to connect with my children like that. For a long time, I treated my children as if they were little robots to be shaped according to my will for them, not treating them with love, understanding, or truly learning who they are and allowing them to grow in their talents, abilities and gifts. Now that I understand myself, my gifts, and I’m learning more about love, I have many more moments in Living Love with my family. When you are content with who you are, you are able to love others more fully.
Last week we talked about “Living Love” in this article. But how do we really live it in our day to day challenges of parenthood? How do we DO Living Love?
This is the first in a three part series that will give us some steps to take towards Living Love. (look for the other steps in the next two weeks)
Step 1: It starts with YOU
In the story illustrated above, I had no agenda with my daughter. I let her take the lead and tell me how she wanted to play. That was the beauty of our experience. I got to see her like I have never quite seen her before-in her element for two full hours, pretending, creating, playing, and leading. She felt secure to just be herself, content and enjoying her life. As adults, how often do we allow ourselves to just be who we are, content and enjoying life? What could we create, do, enjoy if we allowed ourselves to just be who we are and love ourselves? (I just read this great little piece of how a mom did just that-in her swimsuit-on the beach. It’s a beautiful example of acceptance of herself just as she is, and loving her children.)
Apply these three principles and you will see the Living Love growing in your family:
First, Accept yourself. Even if you are not perfect, you are a valuable person on the planet. There is room for you! There is a place for you! Understand that even with all the little things you don’t like about yourself, you are important. Perhaps those little things you don’t like about yourself can turn into gifts when you let go of the strain of being perfect.
Second, Forgive yourself. This step is crucial in order to accept who we are. How can we continue along our path to joy and living love if we can’t let go of our mistakes and dumb decisions? The purpose of our lives is to learn and grow and make the most of the moments we have with those we love. This takes place best when we can forgive, let go, and move on.
Third, Grow your talents and gifts. You are a being with innate gifts and talents to enjoy and share. When you are in a space of honoring those talents and gifts, your spirit soars. You’re enjoying who you are. You have the ability to connect more with those you love. Give it a try! I’ve been amazed in the past couple of months that as I’m living more authentically in my strengths and talents, my ability to see my husband and children in their strengths and talents has created a new energy within me and my family.
Take the first step, put these three pieces together in your personal life and see what joy it brings and the Living Love that just flows from you to your family. It really is simple. Which of these will you start with today?