Loving acts change us only when we are able to witness and receive them. In contrast, when we don’t actively perceive and accept the loving intentions of those around us, they lose their potency quickly and can even lead to conflict. It is more common than not for people to miss loving acts completely because their powerful filters of what they expect love to look and feel like dismiss loving acts completely.
This is a powerful reminder for me these days as I transition my role as a mother away from the active daily interactions to a more distant on-call counsel. It is easy for me to experience the distance with my kids as pain and loss. My old feelings of being invisible to them are easily sparked by their busyness and preoccupation with the expanding parts of their lives that don’t include me.
Tragically, what I miss in those moments are the ways that their new grown-up love infuses me with pride and gratitude for all the years that have gone before, but also for the myriad ways that they keep their lives open to me. I have to retrain myself over and over again to focus on how their love for me and my love for them is shaping a more grown-up relationship and teaching us all, bit by bit, how love, even distant love, makes us stronger in our own independence.
It takes determination and vigilance to not allow my pain body to lead my interactions with others, but more importantly with myself. Pain tends to shield our hearts from what we want most, connection. Feeling the pain by calling it by its right name, helps to dissipate it and makes room to witness and receive the loving acts that are waiting to be seen.