“Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance even celebration of another.” -Karen Casey
Some years ago, a friend of mine and I reconnected after nearly 20 years and realized we had become two very different women then we both expected and thankfully, we were both on the same path of becoming better women. And so the story of our lives begins again! That is a whole other story but the chapter of this beginning is worth telling now.
We realized, as young women, we were both on the same wrong path but we were both now on a new and very different path. Although we were still learning, we decided we would both set out to help women understand what it means to be authentically feminine. As young women, there was no one to guide us or at least no one who took up the task. We began having long talks about what it meant to be authentically feminine. We realized that the culture in which we live today is absolutely counter to authentic femininity. Women have lost the love of their basic being. We don’t love ourselves anymore. We can’t see what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true in our femininity.
When Jeannette asked me to be a guest blogger this month, she asked me if I wanted a topic to write about. I usually have a thought that I have been pondering for a while but this time I had nothing, so I asked her to give me something. She sent several quotes to me but when I read this quote by Karen Casey, “Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance even celebration of another” it stuck in my mind. I needed to think about this for a few days before I decided to write about it. My first thought was about me loving others and loving them for who they are and accepting them as they are-in a nutshell, unconditional love. The kind of love that Blessed Mother Teresa showed the people in the streets of Calcutta. But something else was lingering in my mind about this quote. How many of us apply this to ourselves? After all, this is how God loves us.
Do I love me this way? I have high expectations for myself and so does our culture. But these high expectations are just that. Sometimes they are expectations we create for ourselves that God never intended for us and sometimes we take on the expectations of our culture. We think we have to be supermom or superwoman even though we know she does not exist. We want it all! We want to do it all and we want it all done perfectly. We want perfect husbands, perfect children, the perfect house and the perfect car among other things. We want to be perfect in all we do and look perfect while doing it all. When we strive for these false expectations and fail, we feel like failures and become disappointed in ourselves and begin to love ourselves less. We lose our feminine dignity. We become tired of trying to do it all. We realize our husbands are not perfect, our precious children are not perfect and then the reality of our own imperfections sets in and we become disappointed in ourselves and those who we are supposed to love unconditionally and without expectations. And with all these disappointments we cannot see our own dignity as women. Our femininity becomes lost. We can see the loss of dignity in so many women today, in the way they dress, in the speech they use, in the acceptance of things that are less than good and beautiful and true.
We cannot fully love ourselves as we are because we can only see what we think are imperfections and failures. God never sets us up for failure. We know that God’s grace is sufficient for us to accomplish what He asks of us. His expectations are love, trust and surrender to His will. We are to simply love, love ourselves so that we can love others. Trust in God, that His will for us will bring us happiness and joy in the everyday little things. When we begin to truly love ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us, we will no longer place false expectations on ourselves that we know we are unable to meet. We will love ourselves and others with no expectations and with full acceptance of all imperfections.
If we want to transform ourselves, we have to find that self-love that gives us our dignity as women. We will become more pleasing to ourselves and to those around us. I remember having a conversation with my friend, Michelle, about the changes I was seeing in myself. As I began to love myself, my outlook on everything around me changed. I was able to see what was good and beautiful and true. The whole world began to look different. I was able to appreciate all of God’s creation around me because I began to see the beauty in even the smallest of things. I even noticed a difference in the clothes I was wearing. My whole being was reflecting a different me and it was also happening with my friend as well. I was able to see the brokenness in others and love them anyway. I was able to understand compassion and mercy, which I did not have for myself much less another person. Although I had been to confession, I had not fully forgiven myself for sins that I had committed. I could not fully love myself in all of my weaknesses and imperfections. As I began to embrace and love my femininity, I was able to let go of the conditions and expectations that I had set on myself which in turn, enabled me to love others without conditions and expectations. Blessed Mother Teresa is the most modern woman that I can think of when I think of unconditional love, love without expectations and love that is mercy and compassion.
Blessed Mother Teresa didn’t ask questions of those she carried off the streets. Their past did not matter to her because she knew it did not matter to God. All that mattered was that they belonged to God. He loved them and so she loved them too. Whatever led them to the streets, whether it was past sins of their own or neglected love and compassion of other people, they needed to be shown the love and mercy of God. They needed to know and believe that God loved them unconditionally. He was willing to forgive whatever sins they committed. All they had to do was love themselves so they could see their own dignity, their own worth and He would take care of the rest. Through Mother Teresa, God was able to restore their dignity. We too, should be able to love ourselves with the same love, a love without expectations and with full acceptance. Rejoice!