Today's affirmation at Soul Inspiring.com was "I am open to loving relationships." I had to smile at the above photo that was with it, it kind of reminded me of Papa Bear and me. :-)
I started thinking about the many relationships I've been in in forty years of adulthood and nearly sixty years of life. The older we get the more relationships we've experienced - some by choice, some that seem to be by chance encounter, and a very rare few because they seem destined. Or is it that all of our encounters are not by happenstance at all, but part of the master plan for our lives? I tend to believe that is true.
It is said that we learn something from everyone we encounter in life, either what to do or what not to do. Along with that, we gradually learn to chose our relationships more wisely. Young people often tend to place value on having a large number of friends, both on Facebook and in life. Eventually they learn that there is so much more to be gained by having a one, or two, or a few trusted people in their lives with whom they can share anything and be certain of confidentiality and honest input.
Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that showed a great deal of promise at first, be it friendships or romantic relationships. Many hearts have been broken by discovering the person we thought we knew, either couldn't be trusted, or didn't really have our best interests at heart. Sometimes people change too, in ways we don't expect or aren't comfortable living with.
When I look back on my previous marriages, and other relationships I've experienced along the way, I have to admit that often they didn't really fall into the category of "loving", some were one-sided with me doing most of the giving and them doing most of the taking, some were straight out abusive. What happens in relationships like that, especially if they last for awhile, is that your own self esteem gets worn down, and you begin to question who you are, if that's the best you deserve. You forget to let your own light shine, and to believe in your own wonderful expression of God's love.
Shortly after turning fifty years old I made the decision that I would no longer sell myself short, not waste my time and energy on relationships that weren't mutually caring, giving, and loving. I would rather have one wonderful relationship, or even no close ones at all, than be part of a relationship that causes pain, confusion, stress, and tears. I welcome people into my life with open arms, I tend to trust, and sometimes trust and share too much. I want to believe the best of them. But if the time comes when I see that it isn't working out to be what I had hoped for, I am wise enough and strong enough to say enough!
It's taken me a long, long time to get there, but I what I've gained in choosing to participate in only loving relationships is the freedom and joy that come with true understanding, encouragement and caring. How awesome it is to know that when your friend or partner says "I love you" they truly mean it, and their actions are going to reflect it. Those kinds of relationships are worth waiting for!
This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are pain and gain