This piece was originally published on the Every Girl’s Dream blog last year. But I think about it regularly when I’m paralyzed with doubt and questioning every move I make. I thought maybe some of you might find this perspective beneficial in your lives. Much love to you family! XO, Erin
One of my very favorite songs both to sing and listen to is “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, covered by artists from nearly every genre. It is a timeless love song with remarkable lyrics and a beautiful, simple melody. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like this song. It speaks universally of the depth of one person’s love for another – it says what love is:
“When the rain is blowing in your face and the whole world is on your case, I can offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love…I know you haven’t made your mind up yet, but I would never do you wrong I knew right from the moment that we met – no doubt in my mind where you belong…storms are raging on the rolling sea and on the highway of regret the winds of change are blowin’ wild and free – but you ain’t seen nothin’ like me yet…I can make you happy make your dreams come true – no there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do – go to the ends of the earth for you to make you feel my love.”
Now that’s not the whole thing but you get the gist. It’s a lovely song about love. Cut to real life…the place where we actually have to fit our raw emotions – our visions of what would be – into the blender of daily life and sometimes what comes out is not the sweet and genuine statement of “here’s what I will do to make you feel how much I love you every day,” instead we find ourselves forcing our loved ones to chug the “I will make you feel my love if it kills us all!” smoothie of the day. It can be difficult to give our significant others – and often our children even more – the love they need and are most able to accept in a way that is meaningful. Rather, we shove our ideas of what things are “supposed” to feel like, look like, and inevitably what our giving of affection is going to mean to them and about us – down their throats – whether they like it or not! “I will MAKE you FEEL MY love” – and it becomes all about us and ultimately not about love.
At work and in our lives outside these most intimate relationships – for the most part – people have to accept what we have to give. They can make suggestions or demand certain adjustments but overall at the end of the day we all go back to our own corners and while friendships and work interactions are important we have a certain amount of control over how much we are giving to others and they have to take it or leave it. Obviously, we can’t (or shouldn’t – certainly people do) abuse that autonomy but ultimately we do not have to share a home or a bed with those people. Yet, I wonder how much more successful we would all be – and how much more peaceful our world might become – if we became more adept at being conscious of other people’s perspective. That’s another show for another day…
I entered my adult life with very concrete goals in place about marriage and family – basically that I would conquer them! My point of view came from the way I grew up – a child of multiple divorces, lots of moving, lots of changing schools, and interchangeable step-families, at times not knowing where I was going to live – and often not feeling safe. I knew I could do it better and they (my husband and children) would see how hard I was trying and how much I loved them and they would hoist me on their shoulders and crown me “Queen Mommy and Wife of the Universe.” The thing I struggled to realize – that seems so obvious – is that my husband and children do not share my past. Their framework for life is not built of MY experiences but MY experiences can positively or negatively impact how their framework is built or built upon.
Instead of thinking about my needs and my goals and my expectations and my past experiences and how I wanted to be a better parent and I wanted to conquer marriage what if I just looked at the people around me and completely removed myself from the equation. Is that possible? I would venture to guess that – at least in my life – I would have a lot more patience with everyone in my home if I removed my “stuff” from their lives. Who am I to say – beyond the expectations that they are kind, healthy, and purposeful – who am I to say any more than that?
In the end, making our love for others felt has so much more to do with them than it has to do with us. Love is messy and imperfect just like people and once we stop trying to fit it in a box, wrap it, label it, and post it on Facebook – and just start listening and taking advantage of the little moments to quietly share our love instead of trying “make” others feel it all the time – who knows what could happen.
Books have been written on just this topic – the most famous being The 5 Love Languages – so there are certainly opportunities to delve deeper into the subject. Ultimately, my goal is always to help us all find a little perspective and think about things in a way maybe we haven’t before. Sometimes – I need the reminder most of all.