Yesterday, I was jumping on the trampoline with my 3-year-old. We were both so happy to be ending the day with each other - me just finishing up work and her just getting home from school - plus, it was gorgeous outside. I was in such a blissful state of appreciation when Merit shouted out loud, "I love me with my whole heart!"
My heart expanded and I said, "Merit, what did you say?" I had to hear it again.
She said without hesitation, "I love me with my whole heart! I love everybody!"
Earlier in the day I was revising my soon-to-be published memoir (September '22) and was acutely aware of how the revision process is making me dig deep into my intentions, the feelings around my memories and interactions, and mostly, my spiritual journey.
Along with my book editing process, Merit's words jolted me back into a state of remembering just how self-love has been so fleeting for me on my journey and in comparison, her journey of self-love is one that seems secure and steadfast. And then, I wonder, how can I nurture her love for herself when it has been so hard for me to get to a point where I can say I love myself again?
My journey has been plagued with insecurities around who I am on the surface versus who I am beyond my labels. The central part of my own transformation has been coming to terms with each part of me, allowing them to all shine in their own way. That doesn't mean I have it all figured out - it just means, there's a way. And I want to point Merit in a direction that allows her to have her journey, her own pain, her own growth, but still remember that who she really is never changes.
Who I really am has never changed.
I've just gone on this ride of life like we all do - looking for acceptance, belonging, connection, and love. Merit will do the same thing.
As I watch her grow into the smart, sassy, independent, loving leader that she is - I think about how lucky I am that I get to remember every day that what she sees in herself and in the world around her is the truer perspective that I keep embracing further because of her.
Today I dropped her off at school, and outside of the school there were men in small groups, standing together, and praying. I couldn't hear their words, but I could feel their intention. Their intention was to love. Tears poured out of my eyes and it hit me - we all just want to love and be loved no matter how we express it.
Traditional Christian prayer is definitely something that has pushed my buttons over the years - I've been prayed for by other people to be changed one too many times. It has put a bad taste in my mouth. I've discovered for myself that prayer for me isn't about changing circumstances, changing others, or asking for special requests - it's about connecting with my inner voice, my heart, and allowing myself to be present and grateful so that I can be a better person in the world.
I've struggled with religion since coming out of the closet - rightfully so - but I am starting to come to peace with the fact that no matter how we each express our need to love and be loved, that it's all beautiful in its own way. We are all here just trying to figure it out. And, yet, the simplest of ways are always the answer.
As Merit always tells me, "God is in my heart."