We’ve all heard that old saw by Ben Franklin that states nothing is certain but death and taxes. While this is mostly true, I have to wonder if ol’ Ben got his gray matter fried flying one too many keys heavenward into the angels’ bowling lane. Where does love come into the equation, Ben? Surely this is just as certain.
Tax day 2015 found me at my aunt’s funeral, the coincidence of which wasn’t lost on me. I’m not as close to that side of my family as I’d like to be, which isn’t really anyone’s fault. Sometimes life and circumstance just get in the way, and we get so busy with the business of living that we forget the actual components of life. But as we gathered together to celebrate the life of a truly remarkable woman, I was blessed to realize that even though I may not see them much, my family loves me. This was a powerful revelation, and something I realized later that my heart had known but my mind hadn’t been as sure about. I was little better than a child since I’d spent much actual quality time with this side of the family, but the shared history and ancestry we do have were more than enough to overcome any awkwardness. I belonged there, not only because my DNA said so, but because they embraced me, literally and figuratively. And they may never know how significant their acceptance is, what a balm to my soul. Because in the long run, life isn’t about how much money you make or how much stuff you accumulate – it’s about love.
It is the hope of my heart that there is nobody reading this now that has the misfortune of thinking, “This isn’t me. Nobody loves me.” If you’re thinking that, stop that line of thought right now. First, love thyself. That is the truest, most important love you will experience in your lifetime. Knowing (or learning!) how to love who you are and accepting that you are a person who deserves to be loved is a vital component of happiness. Too often I see people depending on love from outside sources to affirm their sense of belonging. That’s a lot of pressure to put on another person, and a common pitfall in relationships. So first, make sure you like who you are and give yourself permission to be flawed.
Next, accept that everyone has someone that loves them. Your mother, your father, your siblings, your friends, your dog. Stop for one moment, every day, and think of all the sources of love you have in your life. Cherish them, savor them, be thankful for them. If you have many, say a prayer of thanks. If you have few, say a prayer of thanks. And never stop reaching out with love. You may be met with resistance and rebuke, but you’ll often be met with love in return.
Never assume someone loves you, but never assume that they don’t. This is the mistake I was making with my family. I was silly enough to think that time could diminish something as powerful as my family’s love, just because we hadn’t been close. I’ve never been so delighted to be wrong. If there is someone you love that you haven’t talked to in a long time, and you think you just can’t contact them…you can. It’s easier than ever, in this world of cell phones and social media. It’s been my experience that people are generally much more happy to hear from me than I thought they would be, once I resolved not to let the awkwardness of time and distance stop me.
Taxes can be cheated. Death can be postponed. I prefer to think of love as the largest certainty of life. Go grab it with both hands, and never let go.
-by Julie Jones