K-Sue is my dearest friend and confidant, companion and go-to person...not just in a pinch but always. Her oldest child Kodee is in his second week of Boot Camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego (Camp Pendleton). She misses him dearly and it really has me thinking (once again) about relationships and love. And I mean basic, good old fashioned unconditional "love your neighbor" love as much as family or romantic love.
As I attempt to grow and become a more understanding person spiritually, I have come to realize that so much of what I would consider "good, caring, considerate care for others" or "being a good person" hinges on our ability to shed our selfish habits and love others unconditionally. There would have been a time, not so long ago that I would have thought what I just wrote there was a total load of CRAP. I would have considered it a joke, laughable and would have considered them the thoughts of some Birkenstock wearing "tree-hugger" who was weak physically and emotionally. As I got drunker and drunker I would have made more and more fun of anyone who would believe such gibberish...until I fell down and passed out, I guess the joke was on me!
Today, knowing what I do now I couldn't agree more. Ultimately it is LOVE and make no mistake of my meaning...I'm talking about the love that flows into us from God. That in my opinion is the only thing that can save us from ourselves. I know that it is true in my life, there is simply no doubt about that. So knowing that LOVE truly is the key that opens the door to a new way of living, it automatically brings me back around to a critical manifestation of HOW we humans love each other: our relationships.
In the past, I used people to fulfill my own needs...typically when it came time where I might have to sacrifice something of mine (time, money, work, a listening ear perhaps...) for someone else, I always had an excuse why I couldn't be there. I was not a dependable: friend, father, husband, co-worker, spouse, son, brother, golf partner...you name it. Why? Because I was focused solely on self...sure, I would do things when it was convenient for me to do so (and there was no real sacrifice required from me) then really mine that mediocre effort on my part to guilt that person into doing more stuff for me later, I was shameless in my expectations. I had no idea what a true relationship, whether it be a friendship, marriage, parent, brother, etc really was...
Today I am learning as I go. Once I sobered up I and began working at living a different kind of life, one that really evolved around service to others, my eyes began to open and I realized how incredible a true relationship based on unconditional love really was. This was not an easy or simple transformation for me. It was very natural for me to always check, with out even thinking what "my take" would be in any particular situation (or relationship). Basically what's in it for me?
But I found through experience that there great joy in loving others. It is NOT a sacrifice...it is never a burden to reach out to others, it is a privilege. Just to be able to really care for someone today after years of only thinking about my self, to actually listen and feel what someone else feels, quite simply brings me closer to God. I just have no other way of saying it...that's the rub. It is a magical, incredible moment when giving begins to feel like receiving. The joy, the love, the trust one gets in return for helping others is absolutely the greatest gift I have ever received.
And I'm not kidding about feeling closer to my Creator. No I really do. But now that relationships...loving others unconditionally just because it is the right thing to do gives me a freedom from self that I cannot even begin to accurately describe. I'm afraid I'm starting to go around in circles a bit so I'll bring this post to a close.
But all oif those thoughts came to me this afternoon just because I thought of K-Sue missing her son Kodee so much. And then realizing that whatever pain relationships can bring us and they do cause pain at times...it's entirely worth it as far as I'm concerned.