A Special Kind of LoveJan 29, 2020 11:24PM ● By Dena Betti
A Special Kind of Love
Stronger Than You Know
By Dena Betti
The voicemail was short. It said, “I’d like to pick your brain around how I can provide support to my grieving children for the events occurring in our lives ...so if you can give me a call …” I called Carissa right back. We had been friends since high school, but our connection to one another was now thread together more by Facebook posts and comments than actual human connection. As she shared her recent reality with me, I learned that her beautiful family had been shattered and broken by drug addiction, adultery, and betrayal. Everyone in her family was, in their own way, grieving the loss of what they once had.
I couldn’t help but think Carissa was the last person something like this would happen to. She was a leader, has a brilliant mind, attended a prestigious private college, is committed to her family and spouse, and the list goes on. But now life was breaking her, and she was fighting back through the fervor of her own self-love.
When we love ourselves enough to be real about our situation and circumstances, it means we allow ourselves to open to the truth and unselfishly love ourselves. It is at that point that we can truly share ourselves with another person. Life is meant to be shared. This is the bold step Carissa was making on that very day she asked me to call her back.
Authentic friendship goes beyond surface chitchat. It is genuine heart-to-heart sometimes gut level sharing. It happens when people love themselves enough to get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hearts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer. In our culture, this type of self-love is rare. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, there’s pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. People wear masks, keep their guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in their lives. But is this truly self-love or a life based in fear?
Darkness is used to hide our hurts, failures, and flaws, but in the light, we bring them all out in the open and admit who we really are and the challenges we face. Of course, being authentic requires courage, self-love, and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure and rejection and being hurt again. Why would anyone take such a risk? Because it is the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. We only grow by taking risks, and the most difficult risk of all is to be honest with ourselves and with others.
Self-love allows you to look out for yourself, and in looking out for yourself you also look after others. I believe the greatest gift Carissa is giving her grieving children is showing her vulnerability and pain and, most importantly, showing that it’s by facing the pain that we move through the pain. What an immeasurable amount of self-love this takes. And, yet, in the end, by caring for herself she will have given a priceless gift to her family: the gift of self-love. So, as you reflect on all those you love this month, reflect on your love for yourself. It is one of the most powerful loves to be honored and cared for. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Dena Betti is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, chairperson of #hersmile Nonprofit, and a certified life coach. For more information, email [email protected].