The Art Of Forgiveness | The Most Precious Gift To Yourself

gift-of-forgiveness

I am the first to admit it – I let things fester, unnecessarily, to the point where I lose sleep, and dwell on things.  I get to the point where I attach all memories to a specific event, or person and I only see negative.  It turns all of my acquired human decency in prickly little attitude which takes away my shine.  It turns my happiness into frustration.  It take’s the quality of my joy and turns it into mediocre.  It take’s the authenticity out of me.

The thing about fairness in life, is that it just doesn’t happen.  You can take a look at your past and all the events that have bothered you to all different degree’s and you will learn, from your continued life experiences, that it just doesn’t happen.

There have been situations where I have sat there, literally for day’s, month’s, or in certain circumstances, years and thought that what someone has done to me has been so unfair.  No one in their wildest imagination would see their actions towards me justified by any means. I do tend to distance myself from people who hurt me, physically… but letting go and keeping your distance, mentally, is something that takes a little more discipline.

unforgiveness

Do I believe in Karma?  Yes.  Did any of these individuals ever get what I felt they justly deserved to come back to them for treating me a certain way?  No.

Being imprisoned by these hurtful actions does not do anything except lock you into an emotional prison where you are left trapped, and unable to move forward in your own journey.

Don’t lose your joy.  Don’t function as a mediocre being when you try so hard to shine each and every day.

All the years you have waited for them to “make it up to you” and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed, they may never change. Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself, for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get.”

Lewis B. Smedes 

The Art of Forgiving: When You Need To Forgive And Don’t Know How

Advertisements

4 Important Lessons You Learn Through Difficult Times, by MAURA HUGHES

While difficult times can feel like a deep dark hole that we can’t escape and we often wonder “Why is this happening to me?”, there is a silver lining to tough times. It’s through the difficult times in our life, that we are able to grow. It’s when we are tested that we are able to rise, push through and come out the other side stronger, braver and bet

No one wants to struggle. No one wants to even admit their struggling. We all want to have Photoshopped versions of our own lives that fit perfectly into an Instagram square. But life does not work like that. Every one of us will be faced with a variety of tough times in their life. It is one of the few things we can really count on.

The truth is, there are some important lessons in life that we are only taught through difficult times and they can become the silver lining to the darkness.

1. Who your real friends are.

It’s an unfortunate and often time brutal truth to learn that someone we once thought would be there no matter can’t be counted on. Difficult times have a unique way of trimming off the fat in our lives. If someone does not truly care, they will not make the effort to be there. End of story. The realization that someone you love doesn’t make you a priority can knock you off your feet but it will save you time and energy that would have been spent trying to be there for them in the future. Eventually, you will learn who really matters, you will be grateful for them and you will have cleared out some emotional space for someone who will be there for you, through thick and thin.

2. The depth of your strength.

“It builds character,” was my mom’s favorite response to any complaint I had growing up. As annoying as that line was, it is true. Nothing builds our strength like surviving difficulty. Nothing forces us to leverage what we have, dig deep and come up with every ounce of integrity, patience and strength like a hard time. When you survive something, your internal scoreboard registers it. Imagine as if your internal synapses are pushing an extra win into your win/loss column and the next time you go into battle, your will take an inventory of what your winning record is and bulk up your confidence that you can survive and thrive, no matter what you are facing.

3. What really matters in life. 

Difficult times tend to turn our worlds upside down and anything that is nailed down to the floor will go flying. Sometimes it’s comforting to know what actually does stick, what is still hanging in there after the world goes awry. Because when we’re right side up again, we’ll be able to look a little more closely at those things, take a bit better care of them and love them even more for being unmovable. Most of us spend most of our days worrying about everything but what we should be worrying about. But after a difficult time, we’re less likely to worry as much about the little things and focusing on those unmovable pieces in our life that really matter.

4. How to be grateful. 

Difficult times leave us with a lasting impression. They alter us and change the way we view our lives. We have learned who and what matters in our life and undoubtedly we have a greater appreciation for them. Surviving hardship gives us a broader perspective on what hardship really is. You will look back on the things you use to complain about and be thankful they are your only worries. After we have survived a difficult time, we are given a deep gratitude for our life.

Difficult times will happen. To find the light, we have to go through the darkness and while you’re in the midst of it, try to take a deep breath and remember that the lessons you are learning will shift your view of life. You will learn what matters, who matters, how strong you are and how lucky you are to exist. That’s what difficult times teach us and they are some of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

Original Post; http://www.purposefairy.com/80874/4-important-lessons-you-learn-through-difficult-times/

Loss: A Journey Of Survival

Dealing with loss is never an easy process.  It can take the joy right out of your soul in seconds, and change everything you have every know.   It can even change you.  Are you ever the same after losing someone?

There are all kinds of loss.  Loss of a parents, grandparents, siblings, children, friends.  Loss of ideas, concepts, and hopes.  Loss of dignity, pride and self.  It doesn’t matter whom, or what the loss is, it all ends in the same way – pain, confusion, hurt, anger.  It can put us in a very dark place.  A place that is there which leaves us questioning our meaning of existence, our beliefs, and ourselves.

I’ve had a lot of losses in my life.  My first “loss” was when my parents divorced.  I was six years old and I remember the time period – it stands still in my mind.  It’s a whirlwind of events, but for some reason the moments I remember are played so slowly.  My parents were just not meant to be, and I clearly understand that now, as a grown woman, but as a little girl my world was shattered.  I remember asking my Dad to stay in my room so that I could sleep.  I asked him to sit beside me for nights because I feared losing him.  I feared waking up and not finding him there anymore – not knowing where he went.  Life as I knew it was different from the rest of my friends and I was scared.  I did not understand the concept of Mommy and Daddy not being together anymore.  What did that mean for me?

Years later I lost my Grandfather. This was the first time I had physically lost someone.  I lived in a different city, and remember the phone call from my Dad.  Hearing words of loss is never easy.  Trying to figure out how to deal with it is something that you are unaware of when you are 13 years old.  I cried, as I hurt.  I lost my Grandpa – which little girl doesn’t cry?  I was a child still.

Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.” ~ Unknown

1998 was one of my most challenging years.  I was working with elderly people.  Loss was inevitable in this job.  It was also the year that my Step-Dad and Grandma were both diagnosed with cancer.  I remember that summer being filled with confusion, and many tears.  Cancer is a hellish disease.  I thought I was “trained”.  My medical experiences had prepared me.  I had a full understanding of how this disease would take its toll, and take the very life from my loved ones.  Watching them die in front of you is much different from receiving news on the phone – I took a leave of absence from my job and devoted my time, knowledge, experience and love to both of these people, my family members.  I took over palliative care – spent nights in the Cancer Agency, and palliative care homes. My efforts of love and devotion could not win the battles that were in their lives, and eight weeks apart was just too much for me.  I looked at death in a different way now – I was scared of it, and it had its control on my life.  I was scared to drive, I was scared of my loved ones driving,  I was scared of accidents, I was scared of disease.  I went so far as to not order food from a restaurant for delivery for fear of something happening to the delivery man and me being responsible for taking away someone from this earth who was loved my friends and family in their lives.  I was scared of everything in this world that would potentially take away someone I knew, someone I cared for, or worse – someone I loved.

One could say I did not handle this well … and nearly 20 years later I still feel scared of death.  I’ve lost more friends, and family.  And each time it takes away my faith in reality in this whole life process.

If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. You can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready. Lao Tzu

And then loss, at its finest … miscarriage.  This is not only a physical loss, but this is an emotional loss.  Horrific, and indescribable.  I have had two successful pregnancies between 2011 – 2013 and have two beautiful boys.  Why would I think that this would happen to me?  But apparently,”This is common”, they would tell me.  “We are surprised this has not happened to you yet!”, another would say.  Wait? What?  Am I really hearing this?  The idea of not seeing my babies heartbeat on my ultrasound, or feeling them kick and move in my belly was sad enough, but the reality of “what could have been” broke my heart to pieces.  What would my baby have looked like?  What would she, or he have grown up to love?  Would they have had the most beautiful smile, just like my two boys?  What caused this?  Was it me?  Was is God’s plan?  Was I being punished?  What did I do wrong to deserve this? Am a I horrible person?  What did I do in my past live to deserve this?  Did someone hate me so much that they wished this upon me?

My baby would have been born last week, and so i’ve sat here going through the motions and trying to understand loss a little better.  Making an effort for Loss and I to become pal’s so I can empathize a little easier.  What is it that causes us the tears, that horrible ache in your heart, the feeling that causes those uncontrollable tears.  Because my mind wants to identify it, and grab it and throw it away and never think of it again, or do I?  If I am able to figure out what I can do to block those emotions does that make me a horrible person?  Heartless?

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.  ~ Washington Irving

I realize now that it is nothing that anyone can prepare for, prevent, or even accept gracefully.  Loss is horrible, and it breaks you down.  Only time can heal, and that is because of the distance it creates between you, and when it happened.  Time … will eventually heal all losses.

And after the tears stop I sit back and think just how lucky I am to be alive and to have experienced all of these memories, especially the ones that hurt so much, the losses that broke me into pieces, and tore my soul apart.  I pick up the mess I have turned into, and I remind myself that I hurt because I loved so much, because I cared so much, because I let things matter to me from the deepest parts of my being … because at the end of the day what it comes down to is that some people are never this lucky.  I am blessed.

 

 

 

Good Riddance; Letting Go and Moving Forward

With each year, as we approach the closing of the year, we begin to reflect on life reminiscing about the past years adventure, contemplating the things that we had hoped to experience, or move away from.  Every year is the same story – we have 365 days to try to get it right.  Some of us go full force with guns blazing, and others of us get sidetracked, or simply give up.  Unsuccessful, you learn to accept that some challenges were not met head on, and prioritize them into your current set of goals in the new year to come.

Every year I have the intention to work on “me” – convincing myself to let go of things that hurt or caused me to feel in a negative manner, and figure out better, more cathartic methods, of trying to overcome obstacles in my life.

2afeb32c5cc98a7cfa4d7ea91161420e

The past few years have been devoted to learning how to balance family, friends, and my career.  It has not been easy.  Each day I work through how to put 150% effort into each of these really important things in my life … there never seems to be a cut and dry answer, and sadly when I do have days when I feel like life is feeling balanced, and my efforts are evenly distributed amongst my family, friends, and career, I find that the one thing I do forget about is myself.

67c59a84ca5f8d62c3b1a0d14841181e

 

My goals for the past year included finding a job that I dreamed of – being in an environment that I not only loved, but felt comfortable, challenged, and motivated.  I wanted a job I was passionate about, and not just a job that I would “settle” at.  

My family goals were to be a better mother, and wife – which, I am still not sure exactly what that means.  Does that mean I smile more so than not? or am I just never grumpy, or bitchy towards my husband? 

My friends goal was to weed out the manipulative, negative, and hurtful persons, and get closer to the ones that I felt had a more authentic, genuine, and loyal persona.  The biggest challenge over the past two years  was being disappointed in people’s expectations of me, and individuals lack of loyalty and respect towards the friendships that I shared with them.  I am sensitivite to things that are said to me, or behind my back.  I am an emotional being, as most of us are, and have let things take effect on me far more than they ever had the right to be in my world.  Slowly I am learning that i’ve kept far too many negative people in my life for much longer than they should have ever been there for.  It wasn’t “them” that was doing something to me, it was “me” allowing these individuals the “right” to be in my world.  Unlearning the rule of “be nice to everyone” was difficult because I felt that it was going against all of what I knew to be “right” – what God taught, what elders preached.

213647b4c3348bfd17fa2b38bf9f815a

Did I get it right last year?  when I sit here and write out my view on where I started, and ended in 2015 I feel like there was a progression.  But do I feel 100% satisfied?  No.  I think that goals are great, and working on creating a better, positive, and more fulfilling life, in general, is a healthy thing to desire.  There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself.  It is not selfish when you want the best version of your life – creating this will make you a better person in return.  There is always room for improvement, and that is one of the beautiful things about this life – we have the right to create our own choices – our own path, and our own destination.

Each year we have the chance to start over again, to move forward from the hurt, the lessons, the challenges, and try to do it right. Celebrate the accomplishments you made this year, and reevaluate where you would want to be a year from now.  Hold yourself accountable for what you want in your life, and make it happen.  In a few days you will be able to close the door on this chapter, and move forward into the next.  What you choose to bring with you is up to you – take life lightly, love with all of your will, and remember to make yourself a priority in 2016 xo

2016 New Year celebration display with the date outlined with fiery sparklers in green and blue on a black background

 

 

 

 

 

She Was Done: A Magnificent Read by Adrienne Pieroth

pia1

She was done not fully being herself.

She realized she was the only self she could be—and not being unapologetically true to herself was a disservice to her soul and the world.

She was done listening to the noise of the world. She realized the quiet voice of her own soul was the most beautiful sound.

She was done questioning her motives, her intentions, the call of her soul. She realized questions seek answers, and maybe she already knew the answers.

She was done striving, forcing, pushing through and staying on the hard path. She realized toughing things out might be a sign to pick another path.

She was done with friends that admonished her to be more light and breezy. She realized they didn’t understand she swam in the deep waters of life, she felt at home in their dark depths and died if she lived on the surface.

She was done with the distractions, the denials, the small addictions that pulled her away from the true desires of her soul. She realized that strength of character came from focus and commitment.

She was done not following the desires that yelled out in her soul every day. She realized if she did nothing about them, they died a quiet death that took a piece of her soul with them.

She was done with dinner parties and cocktail hours where conversations skimmed the surface of life. She realized the beverages created distortion and a temporary happiness that wasn’t real and disappeared in the light of the day.

She was done trying to please everyone. She realized it could never be done.

She was done questioning herself. She realized her heart knew the truth and she needed to follow it.

She was done analyzing all the options, weighing the pros and cons and trying to figure everything out before leaping. She realized that taking a leap implied not fully seeing where she landed.

She was done battling with herself, trying to change who she knew herself to be. She realized the world made it hard enough to fully be herself, so why add to the challenge.

She was done worrying, as if worry was the price she had to pay to make it all turn out okay. She realized worry didn’t need to be part of the process.

She was done apologizing and playing small to make others feel comfortable and fit in. She realized fitting in was overrated and shining her light made others brave enough to do the same.

She was done with the should’s, ought to’s and have to’s of the world. She realized the only must’s in her life came from things that beat so strong in her soul, she couldn’t not do them.

She was done with remorse and could have’s. She realized hindsight never applies because circumstances always look different in the rearview mirror and you experience life looking through the front window.

She was done with friendships based on shared history and past experiences. She realized if friends couldn’t grow together, or were no longer following the same path, it was okay to let them go.

She was done trying to fit in—be part of the popular crowd. She realized the price she had to pay to be included was too high and betrayed her soul.

She was done not trusting. She realized she had placed her trust in people that were untrustworthy—so she would start with the person she could trust the most—herself.

She was done being tired. She realized it came from spending her time doing things that didn’t bring her joy or feed her soul.

She was done trying to figure it all out, know the answers, plan everything and see all the possibilities before she began. She realized life was unfolding and that the detours and unexpected moments were some of the best parts.

She was done needing to be understood by anyone but herself. She realized she was the only person she would spend her whole with and understanding herself was more important than being understood by others.

She was done looking for love. She realized loving and accepting herself was the best kind of love and the seed from which all other love started.

She was done fighting, trying to change or not her accepting her body. She realized the body she came into the world with was the only one she had—there were no exchanges or returns—so love and acceptance was the only way.

She was done being tuned in, connected and up-to-date all the time. She realized the news and noise of the world was always there—a cacophony that never slowed or fell quiet and that listening to the silence of her soul was a better station to tune into.

She was done beating herself up and being so hard on herself as if either of these things led to changes or made her feel better. She realized kindness and compassion towards herself and others accomplished more.

She was done comparing and looking at other people’s lives as a mirror for her own. She realized holding her own mirror cast her in the best, most beautiful light.

She was done being quiet, unemotional and holding her tongue. She realized her voice and her emotions could be traced back to her deepest desires and longings. if she only followed their thread.

She was done having to be right. She realized everyone’s truth was relative and personal to themselves, so the only right that was required was the one that felt true for her.

She was done not feeling at home in the world. She realized she might never feel at home in the world, but that feeling at home in her soul was enough.

She was done being drained by others—by people who didn’t want to take the time for their own process and saw shortcuts though hers. She realized she could share her experience, but everyone needed to do the work themselves.

She was done thinking she had so much to learn. She realized she already knew so much, if she only listened.

She was done trying to change others or make them see things. She realized she could only lead by example and whether they saw or followed was up to them.

She was done with the inner critic. She realized its voice was not her own.

She was done racing and being discontent with where she was. She realized the present moment held all it needed to get her to the next moment. It wasn’t out there—it was right here.

She was done seeing hurt as something to be avoided, foreseen or somehow her fault. She realized hurt shaped her as much as joy and she needed both to learn and grow.

She was done judging. She realized judging assumed the presence of right and wrong—and that there was a difference between using information to inform and making someone else wrong.

She was done jumping to conclusions. She realized she only needed to ask.

She was done with regrets. She realized if she had known better she would have done better.

She was done being angry. She realized anger was just a flashlight that showed her what she was most scared of and once it illuminated what she needed to see, she no longer needed to hold on to it.

She was done being sad. She realized sorrow arose when she betrayed her own soul and made choices that weren’t true to herself.

She was done playing small. She realized if others couldn’t handle her light, it was because they were afraid of their own.

She was done with the facades and the pretending. She realized masks were suffocating and claustrophobic.

She was done with others’ criticism and complaints. She realized they told her nothing about herself—only informed her of their perspective.

She was done yelling above the noise of the world. She realized living out loud could be done quietly.

She was done needing permission, validation or the authority. She realized she was her her own authority.

She was done being something she was not. She realized the purpose of life was to be truly, happily who she was born to be,and if she paused long enough to remember, she recognized herself.

Setting Boundaries: Turning Expectations Into Appreciation

wpid-2014-12-07-04-44-10-1.png
Abolition of the drama, and tying up loose ends can be both cathartic, and liberating, especially when it comes to situations or circumstances that have lingered on much longer than they should have – days, months, perhaps years?  So, imagine my surprise when I finally gathered enough courage to confront a situation that had been causing a lot of negative feelings only to be told that I did something horribly wrong to hurt someone ….WHAT?  How did I hurt you when I was minding my own business?  As I continue, you will see how ultimately it was myself that caused this to happen.
I am a giver.  I love to give and to see people smile.  I love to make days brighter if you are feeling sad, or even just having a normal same old day.  I love to be generous, not only because it feels good but, because in my mind I know that it is good karma – you can never give too much.   It doesn’t have to be something grand, it just needs to be the thought put into it.  It can be anything from giving a friend a bouquet of flowers, to taking them out for dinner, to writing them a nice card from your heart, baking a friend a batch of cookie, etc.   I give to friends, and family members.  I give to strangers, food banks, charities, homeless people.  I donate religiously to causes for animals, health research and anything that tugs at my heart-strings because I can, because I want to, because I am free to do so, because it makes ME feel happy.  It makes me shine – and when I shine, I feel wonderful.
I felt that I needed to make a change at the beginning of last year so I really tried to take a look at what the cause was, and what I could do to not only protect myself from feeling this way, but also see the reality of my situations.  I took an honest look, and the “things” I was doing for people, and the way I was being treated were not adding up.  The balance was off kilter and it was impacting me negatively.  It hurt and I was not feeling joyful or happy about doing things for people – I was beginning to feel like it was an obligation.  So, I chose to make a conscious effort to be selective of the individuals I spent my valuable time with. I began to set boundaries.  Not huge boundaries but just enough to create a little distance so I could work on what I was struggling with.  I felt that my boundaries were keeping me focused, on track and committed to the most important thing in my world, my family.
Ultimately, I felt like I was being taken advantage of by many people – not being fully appreciated for the things I was doing for them.  Some of the people who I was trying to distance myself from were friends I that have known for many year, literally decades. So, in hindsight I can definitely see, from their point of view when they say that it looked like I had changed – perhaps I did.  After all, my priorities had changed.  My focus was on being a wife, and mother of two children.  My energy was redirected to them, and gladly so.
I was doing fantastic.  When I did have some time to spare I was spending time with, and becoming closer to, wonderful, beautiful individuals – people who were inspiring, intellectual, positive influences, and limiting the time from those energy draining people aka the energy vampires.
There were many different individuals, but the one that was bothering me the most was my best friend.  I could feel the distance invading my friendship with my best friend of twenty plus years, but I just chalked it up to being a result of the boundaries that I had set for myself as I previously mentioned.  I felt that I needed to keep distance from her, in particular, because of the relationship she had with her husband.  We did not see eye to eye on many of the issues when she would come to me for advice so I chose to back away avoiding tension in our conversations, as I can be quite blunt at time – especially when it comes to situations that continue to happen over and over again.  I appreciated that this was her path she was wanting to travel.  It had nothing to do with me – I was just simply feeling protective of someone I loved and hoping that the friendship would just work its way through the bumps, as things had in the past.  I was being respectful.
Since I made this change I can literally count on both of my hands how many times I had not only seen her, but talked on the phone. I missed her, but took responsibility for the way things were going – after all, I was not happy with my feelings at the beginning of the year, made my boundaries –  so I really needed to put myself first, for once.  I figured that she was doing the same thing.
The distance became greater, more obvious and awkward – it was completely apparent that there was hostility, over the past few months, as my text message were no longer responded to, my phone calls were ignored.  Of course, I was completely hurt as the months continued on, but I took responsibility for the way I felt, even if I was feeling down for her not being more involved in my life because the reality was that my personal boundaries would , obviously, result in this distance.  Whether I welcomed it or not, it was something that I knew I had to do in order to make me happier – it was not specifically directed at her, it was a phase that I had to work thru in my own personal world.  The reality was that I had been busy being a mother of two, and spending my moments raising my children, not accommodating her needs.
default
What this ultimately comes down to is that her expectations in a certain situation were not as she had anticipated.  She was disappointed that I did not put as much effort into a material gift that was given to her – she felt that it was much less than I had done over the past twenty years, and she was offended by it. I’m still confused how someone has the audacity to say that out loud, but yes, we’ve all experienced disappointment, but would you honestly say that to someone??  I’ve witnessed homeless people show more appreciation for the food I have given them!  Saddened, beyond words.
To hear that out loud broke my heart because over the years I have been so giving.  You would roll your eyes at me if you knew some of the things I did to make her, and others happy. Disappointed, deeply.
I indirectly take full responsibility for this particular bump in my path because I know in my heart that if I had set my boundaries years ago, things would have turned out differently. I would have been more guarded, and the end result would not have been the way I am feeling right now.
Expectations …. it will destroy friendships if you begin to take someones kindness for granted.  Learn to appreciate their efforts before you destroy a friendship based on characteristics that you would never even look for, in a potential friendship, in a first place.  There is no room for expectations, especially without appreciation, in genuine friendships.

Marriage Isn’t For You … A Fabulous Read!

It’s been a while since i’ve blogged.  As I reach the end of my pregnancy I find my days becoming filled with many things that I won’t have time for in the next few weeks to come – like setting up my Christmas tree.  Yes, I will be one of “those” who has it up early, and (hopefully) presents wrapped by mid November….  baby is due December 2nd!

I came across a fantastic article last night about marriage.  The way the blog was written was brilliant, to say the least.  It left me with a new sense of belonging.  A different point of view that would change my outlook on the partnership that I myself have, at times, taken for granted and in some circumstances quite selfishly.

I urge you to read this to be reminded off this perspective – it was one of the best things i’ve read in quite some time!

Image

 

Marriage Isn’t For You

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others. –

– Seth Adams