Struggle.

struggle

Love isn’t a feeling we fall in and out of. It’s an action we choose to take even when it may be challenging. Sometimes it brings pain. When we think of love as an active noun, like, as Mr. Rogers suggests above, ‘struggle’, rather than as an emotion, it opens our eyes to the fact that we must work at it. It’s a struggle, a constant readjustment and tinkering, constantly expanding our own understanding and empathy. Love is not molding someone to our vision of what they should be, but accepting who they are and supporting them as they blossom. Thinking of love as something more akin to struggle encourages us to keep looking for new and better ways to show up for the people in our lives, to view the relationships as evolving rather than static, and to appreciate all the little successes and breakthroughs in those relationships along the way.

Struggling toward freedom

coretta

Freedom and justice are not won and done. Often the road toward freedom, justice, and equality twists and turns, full of progress and steps forward, but pitted with set-backs as well. We have made progress since Martin Luther King, Jr. led a movement for civil rights, but  his work is not done. We cannot relax. Indeed, we need to preserve and build on those gains in every generation. We need to be shocked but not surprised to encounter those who have no desire for equality but would rather return to an era of overt discrimination. Theirs is not the right path forward for any of us, including them, and they must be defeated because as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

Are we too good at goodbyes?

 

goodbye

Has it become too easy to slam the door on someone else? Forget about them, move on, find someone new, start over, or, worse, never let anyone close to us again? If it is too easy, what has been lost?

Our relationships are bound to be imperfect because they are made up of imperfect people coming at the world in different ways with different lived experiences. (Even our relationship with ourself is imperfect because each of us is flawed.) But while these differences do provide a potential for friction, they also provide a potential for growth and empathy. We can step back and try to see the world from someone else’s point of view; our perspective becomes broader and more true. We become more thoughtful. We can practice forgiveness, as we would hope to be forgiven if we made a mistake. We can open ourselves up to trust again.

Goodbye, particularly with the people you love and trust and who help you blossom into who you were meant to be, needs to be hard. Very hard. We will become smaller people if we shut ourselves off if a relationship falters. We will become hard if we insist on perfection from ourselves or others.  We will not blossom, but will wither, if we refuse to forgive.

To understand just how sad it is when goodbyes become too easy, listen to this tear-jerker by Sam Smith:

Too Good at Goodbyes

by Sam Smith

You must think that I’m stupid
You must think that I’m a fool
You must think that I’m new to this
But I have seen this all before

I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt

And every time you hurt me, the less that I cry
And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry
And every time you walk out, the less I love you
Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true

I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)
I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)

I know you’re thinkin’ I’m heartless
I know you’re thinkin’ I’m cold
I’m just protectin’ my innocence
I’m just protectin’ my soul

I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt

And every time you hurt me, the less that I cry
And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry
And every time you walk out, the less I love you
Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true

I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)
I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)

 

So, maybe, it’s time to get better at fighting through the rough stuff in order to get to better, deeper, truer relationships. It’s time to be bad at goodbyes.

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