Growing up, I believed the phrase “falling in love” meant finding someone who you would devote yourself entirely to and vise-versa. As I’ve grown and experienced deep love for my children, my family, my friends and myself, I am grateful that love has taken on a new meaning for me – one that is far larger than the hormone hit of infatuation.
A few years ago, I came upon an acronym that captured my new insight. L.O.V.E. stands for Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve. It happens when we can say to someone, “I am a better, stronger me in your presence, and hope that you can say the same.”
For younger children, this can mean adults in the role of learner as well as teacher, knowing that each child grows at their own pace, as well as celebrating that each child has unique and glorious gifts which are theirs to discover.
For older children, it often means modeling more than meddling. While setting clear boundaries and consequences, I’ve often revisited The Three Rules:
Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Silver Rule: Love yourself as much as your neighbor.
Iron Rule: Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.
Staying out of judgment when my adult children have made different choices than I would have has been a huge life lesson. It has helped to look back on the ways I separated my journey from my parents’, and celebrate that they loved me through it all. I have felt the same for my two uniquely different offspring. The result has been watching two exquisite and beautiful flowers unfold and blossom in ways I could never have imagined.
Then there are the adults in my life – friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc. whose opinions sometimes differ from mine wildly, either politically, spiritually or in how they eat and drink. I now ask, “Who am I to say that my choices are the best for all?” Once I see that we are all who and where we need to be at this moment, respect returns…not just for them, but for myself.
The result of this new love definition has been fewer “they shoulds” and more “I coulds,” knowing I can give my attention to thoughts that feel good at any moment. Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve has set me free. Certainly, that is a clear sign that it truly is the most loving choice.