For me it’s a bad day. Lots of pressure. Time demands. Performance accountability. Too many meetings. Difficult transitions. Bad sleep last night. Problems. More problems. Even more problems. Frustration threshold breached. I can actually feel the cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine flowing through my veins. Rational thinking impacted. Ready to fight or leave. Can I still love?
Yes…but it takes more work. My practice is to see every encounter with another person as an opportunity for love, either the giving or receiving of it, or having some unknown effect, or merely honoring the other with my full presence. Love is action, doing, planning, and with these distracting demanding events the call to love requires concentration, and attending to the other in spite of competing processes. It’s more work but it is the most important work. I resist the distraction with much more effort. It doesn’t just flow. It’s feel less natural. I know that if it feels less natural and more adaptive then others will sense it. They will wonder what’s wrong. They may assume the non-natural adaptive response has something to do with THEM. They may think “Why is he acting that way about me.” They may question the relationship, the sincerity of the love given. Nevertheless, I must provide a loving response.
Yes, I can still love and the other can feel it and know it because my angst is normal angst and I am not in a crisis. All crises are stressful, but not all stress is a crisis. My normal angst is not like an epic earthquake that kill thousands and leaves thousands more homeless. In fact in light of the crises much of the world experiences my angst is rather…whimpy. Moreover, I have much to learn about people who love in the midst of a real crisis. Mostly they temporarily disregard their self needs and devote all their attention to the immediate need, whether it is tending to the wounded, burying the dead, or removing the rubble. Dead is different than frustrated. They love in the face of death. Humm. When I’m overwhelmed I’m going to remember that.
Yes, I can still love when money is bad, relationships are on the verge of destruction, sleep is deprived, and the future is uncertain. When I do love while stressed I will heal myself. Although healing myself while loving not my intention or my goal it is part of the miracle of loving. When I love while stressed, love, even restricted love, still flows through me, touching me, then love reaches the other accomplishing its task. It is better to love stressed than to not love at all. In fact, as we have seen in the crises of the the world…
Love under stress is the best kind of love.