Expanding Love

…But when I listen to the whisper of my heart, another answer forms.
I’m tired of carrying around the ill feelings that I have for my Ex.  There are moments, in the stillness, when I wish to have an image in my mind.  An image where I can extend love, peace, gratitude, and forgiveness to my Ex.  As I close my eyes and vision my Ex standing in front of me, with my gift of gratitude resting delicately in my hands, my mind interrupts,  “WHAT!! Gratitude??  For Him?”

I freeze.  I neither extend my gift to my Ex nor do I recoil.  I wait for my heart to return.

“Shhhhhh…” my heart says, “I hear you…  It is done.  You are divorced.  Release your fear.  Offering gratitude to your Ex doesn’t change the past.  By offering this love, you move beyond the history of a failed marriage and into the present.  A present which is limited only by your unwillingness to see love.  See your Ex as a child of God.”

God’s visions of love come to me unexpectedly.  It’s revealed through my younger daughter telling me of quiet times spent in the woods with her dad, watching a doe and fawn.  It’s shown through a dad’s mundane taxiing of a teenage daughter to and from her activities.  I see that these father-daughter times are sacred times.  It isn’t money, guilt, or force that is making these occasions happen.  It is love.  Love from a father to his child.  The father who is my Ex.  The daughters whom I love very much.

The contradiction hits me. How can I not love someone who so clearly shares love with my child? Surely I have appreciation for a person who expresses love to my child.  If it were a friend or a babysitter, and not my Ex, wouldn’t I be grateful for another’s interest in my child?  Indeed, I am very grateful for and love those who lift up my daughters.

So, what about my Ex?  If I can state that I love my babysitter, shouldn’t it follow that I love my Ex for doing much, much more for my daughters?  Spirit whispers: yes.  My ego fights back: no.

What am I afraid of?  Why do I need to hang on to the hate, resentment, bitterness, and unfulfilled dreams?  Why is this need of mine trying to cancel out God’s unending love?  I tell myself to try harder.  I rest in a vision of my daughter smiling in her father’s arms.

“Fine,” I shrug.  “I can love my Ex. I can see that he loves our daughter.  I can see her smiling.  I can’t deny my love to someone who brings joy to her life.”

“Are you sure?” says Spirit.

“Yes,” I say and I start to extend my gift of gratitude.

But Spirit interrupts, “What if you didn’t have children?  What if it was just you and your Ex?  Does your love cover that?  Or does your gift have conditions?”

I sigh, wanting to resist, wanting to protest.  “But what kind of love are we talking about?” I question.  My ego is desperate to win.  I want to justify my resistance.  And then I laugh.  Is my ego so loud that I actually think Spirit will say: “You’re right, love doesn’t cover that!”  Realizing that I’m not going to win, I lower my eyes.  But I’m still not ready to give up.  I’m still not ready to surround my Ex in love.

“You know,” says God, “both you and your Ex are my children.  I love both of you.  I can see beyond your challenges and your struggles.  I love you unconditionally.”

I think about my daughters.  I think about how much I love them.  I love my younger when she won’t sit still at the dinner table or when she squirms when I’m brushing her hair.  I love my older when she chooses to be silent instead of sharing her thoughts with me.  I love them when they’re hurt or feeling sad. I love them when they are angry at me.  I can’t imagine any reason why I’d stop loving them, even if they hurt me.  I love them unconditionally.

I think about my Ex.  I acknowledge the pain of our past, nod my head, and then I move beyond it.  I close my eyes and I breathe in Spirit.

I imagine my Ex standing in front of me.  “I wish you well,” I say.  “Thank you… thank you for teaching me about love.  For the love that brought us together and for the transformed love that continues now we are apart.  I knew how to love when I was in love.  Now, I’ve learned how to love when my head disagrees.”

For just a moment, my ego falls silent. With my hands fully extended, I watch as my gift of gratitude rises off my palms and surrounds my Ex, till he fades away through the mist.  I am still as I breathe in this expanded love.  And I open my eyes to a new beginning.

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