It’s natural to protect yourself from the elements, but you don’t need an umbrella under blue skies. The same is true in life and love. When you’ve been hurt, you naturally protect yourself from intimacy. You don’t want to go through it again. There comes a point though, when you let your guard down enough to see that the only thing raining down on you is love. You never know if it stops raining if you don’t peak out from under your umbrella to check the sky. Take a peak. When you feel strong enough, put away the umbrella, open your heart and receive the love on offer. It’s elemental to who you are to trust love. You just have to remove the protective layers to receive it.
True love cannot be found where it truly does not exist, nor can it be hidden where it truly does.
You can only guard yourself from love for so long, before you end up tangled in your own web of denial. Its time to get untangled. So often animals and small children teach us the lessons of forgiveness and trust that make this possible.
A few years ago, a female humpback whale had become entangled in a maze of crab traps and lines, including a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted the distressed whale just near the Golden Gate Bridge and radioed for help. A team of divers worked for hours to untangle the whale. When she was finally free, the divers described the incredible experience of what happened next. First she swam in what seemed like joyful circles, performing her own gratitude dance. Then she swam up to each diver individually and nudged them as if she was thanking them one by one. The diver who cut the line from her mouth said that he would never be the same after the whale’s eyes followed him the whole time he was working. It’s a beautiful story about love and gratitude and what is possible when love is set free.
The Sufi mystic Rumi said,
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Like the whale, we often get tangled; tangled in our own walls of protection and tangled in the crossed lines of other people’s expectations and insecurities. The only people who get anywhere near us are those who can scale 30 foot walls of protection like paratroopers. Just when they get to the top of one wall, they look over and see another wall. We build new walls just as fast as people find ways to penetrate them.
There are many barriers to love. What are some of these defensive walls? Aside from the 30 foot high wall of self protection, there is the picket fence with neatly manicured hedges that keep out anyone who isn’t perfect. It’s easy to forget that there is no perfect partner, just a perfect connection between two people who are forgiving and accepting. Maybe you have built an inner picket fence that is the veneer of your impossible standards towards yourself. Maybe you’re expecting to be the perfect partner instead of just being who and where you are right now. Maybe you don’t think you are worthy of love. Maybe you’ve tried and feel jaded. Then there is the fence of humor that makes light of any personal inquiry or tells a joke to deflect an intimate connection. Or else maybe you have built a façade of lies, a web of deceit that you’re not even conscious of, that has become a barrier to love in your life. These are some of the many barriers we have built that prevent an authentic experience of love. What is the underlying reason for our defensiveness?
Jesuit Priest Anthony de Mello described a brief teaching conversation. The student asked the teacher, “What is love?”
The teacher replied, “The total absence of fear.”
The student said, “What is it we fear?”
The teacher said, “Love!”
It’s a vicious cycle of fear and protection. Stop the cycle today. Remove the barriers to love one at a time and enjoy the bliss; not just romantic love, but also platonic love for friends, the love of parents and grandparents, love that includes other species, love that includes yourself. Love is not something that comes down from above or from outside of ourselves. Love is something that is discovered from the inside out. You don’t even find love. Love finds you when you remove all the barriers within yourself and allow love to flow.
Once you remove the barriers to love and stand before your bare, naked nature, you will see that love is all there is. It is who you are, who you always were and what you do best. As it says in A Course In Miracles,
Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed, but can only be hidden. The world we knew as children is still buried within our minds.
The crazy thing is that it actually takes more effort to resist love than it does to surrender to love. Building walls is exhausting. Give yourself a break. Stop resisting and surrender to love’s lead. If you’ve been hurt, betrayed, exhausted and misunderstood, love your humanity and persistence and let it grow from there. Love is your nature.
Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung.
The other monk asked him, “Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know its nature is to sting?”
“Because,” the monk replied, “it is my nature to love.”
You know that you will be hurt again. Life stings. That’s the nature of life when we bump up against each other’s walls. Keep loving anyway, because it’s your nature to love. In any case, being trapped inside your fortress of self protection will quickly suffocate you in a cocoon of isolation.
Trust yourself. Open your eyes, put away some protection and unclench your heart. Trust others to do their best to love you. There is so much love to receive, and all you have to do is open yourself to it.