Becoming the giver of love

Two years ago I entered a relationship that would teach me more about love—and all the places within me that struggled to receive it and give it—than anything I’ve ever experienced. That relationship ended this year, and its rupture was a cataclysm in my life. But I am actively, profoundly grateful for it now because it woke me up to where I needed to learn to love myself and to be kind towards others. Sometimes a loss can be so profound that we become determined to make something beautiful out of its wreckage, and that in itself is a gift.

And so I set the heartfelt intention this year to learn to become a person who is absolutely masterful at being loving instead of always seeking to be loved.

We’re all walking around with the secret yearning to be loved. We might as well be cupping our hands together for all the longing we each carry for acceptance, love, and intimacy from others, and for how powerfully this drives our whole lives.

Yes, we can do evil things and reckless things, but we do it out of brokenness and longing. This I believe. I believe that we are, at our very core, profoundly innocent and childlike, and we err only when we lose touch with our sincerest longings and become mired in illusions about what will make us feel enough. And I believe that everywhere there is darkness in the world is merely the external reflection of where we are starved for the light of awareness, which looks a lot like love.

Maybe this is naive, romanticized, simplistic. I stand by it all the same. There’s no one out there that does not want to be accepted, understood, seen, and loved for what it seen. And so much of my life has been spent blindly grasping for this from others by trying to become more successful, more worthy, more enough.

But I’ve had enough of trying to be enough. I’d rather start trying to be the one to give love. If we’re all hungry for scraps of affection from each other, who’s going to be the one to give the nourishment, to offer this sustenance?

So I’ve prayed this year—an unexpectedly life-altering practice. I’ve prayed repeatedly and sincerely to become more loving. To open my heart so I can more easily extend forgiveness, kindness, acceptance. And I’ve learned firsthand the dangerous truth of heartfelt prayer, which is that you get what you pray for—swiftly and without mercy. I prayed to become loving so naturally, life showered me with circumstances that made it that much harder to summon my reserves of tenderness.

Has it worked? I like to think it has. I feel a greater depth to my capacity to love, feel more generous with my affections, and I feel more willing to love first. And I still come back to this refrain when I can: may I become someone who makes others feel like they can be themselves. May I become someone who is a living example of how to be supportive of the wildest dreams and aspirations of others. May I become the giver and not the seeker of love.