One of the most important things I have ever learned was taught to me by a baby.
Many of you might know the story of my sister Jessee and her daughter Ava, who passed away when she was only 3 months old. Jessee and her husband are amazing, faith filled people and they continue to inspire me. But what Ava taught me is probably one of the most important lessons I have ever learned.
But first, I have a confession: I never held my niece. Not once.
I've had a lot of internal shame about that for many years, though I'm finally at peace about it.
She had so many tubes coming out of her, she looked different, and I just didn't know what to do. (Note to self: LOVE is the first and last answer to this question!) I just felt too uncomfortable, and besides, everyone else wanted to hold her, and I wanted to give them a chance and....I had a lot of excuses.
The bottom line, is I just felt weird and avoided Ava.
And then she died.
I felt horrible. We all knew she wouldn't live long, but when she died without me having held her, even once--I realized in full force how disappointed I was in myself, my inability to love and how I had let an opportunity slip by that I would never have again.
Late that night, as I cried for Ava, for my sister's family, and for myself, I had a feeling come into my heart. It felt like Ava was talking to me. It felt like she understood my mistake and that she was ok with it. But it also had a lesson attached:
"Never let your own insecurities get in the way of loving someone."
Are we working from a place of fear or insecurity, when we:
Basically, we all experience some level of fear or insecurity at some time, and justify our actions because of that. Maybe we are afraid that the prevailing culture will change, or that jobs will be taken, or that the popular kids won't like us if we are friendly to the weird kids, that people will think WE are weird if we wave to them and they don't know us, or... there are lots of reasons. But the bottom line is that very few of our excuses are actually valid concerns. Very few. And if we are creative, we can usually find a win/win situation for everyone.
So I'd like to challenge all of us, myself included, to not let our insecurities stop us from loving. Because the world needs us to get outside of ourselves. Let's be both fearless and audacious in the love we offer to others.
What tips do you have to "getting over yourself" so you can love others better?
Hi, I'm Jen! I adore chocolate, I'd rather read than clean my house, and I haven't seen my abs in I-don't-know-how-long. But I love my husband and kids to death and try to Raise The Good within myself and my family by making wise and uplifting media choices and having a deliberate family culture. You are probably doing the same thing. Let's share what works with each other!
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