My friends and I have a saying: love me where I’m at. It serves to act as a reminder that while we don’t always live up to our personal potential, we are always deserving of a gentle voice, encouragement, and compassion. Sometimes it’s hard to be loved when our actions don’t align with our words, or when our words bite a little harder than we intended them to. Tough love is tough, and sometimes it doesn’t come off as being very loving.
Occasionally, the love that we need is not the love that we are given, so we withdraw and look for it somewhere else. Withdrawal from a friend can be seen as a cold, harsh, distance. Especially when the distance is unexplained and unexpected. The fact is, from time to time, we’re all a little hard to love.
We all make mistakes, and we all have a hard time admitting it when we do. Many of us, through no fault of our own, need help to see where we may have pushed a little too hard, while others who are careful not to make the same mistakes, never push quite hard enough. We encourage communication but become offended when someone chooses their words so carelessly that they provide no comfort or closure. Those who are offended by very little often do nothing to understand why our words may have caused defensive sensitivity. Those who become defensive do nothing to communicate our reasoning. We want what’s best for each other while we struggle to obtain the best for ourselves. What happens when the two don’t fit together? What happens when what’s best for me is to find selfishness in solitude, while you are struggling with persistent feelings of loneliness or inadequacy? Friendships are difficult. We are hard to love.
Here’s the key, the secret that we all forget until it’s too late and our bitterness creates walls that we never intended to build — Find something in everyone that makes it impossible not to appreciate them, and you will never go without a reason to love them, even on their darkest days, or your own.
I have encouragers, I have motivators. I have educators and risk-takers and opportunity makers. Optimists and psychologists and philosophers, doers, takers, protectors…lovers, fighters, those that fight for love and those who love to fight. Challengers of opinions and acceptors of ideas. I have them all. At the end of the day they each give me a little bit of themselves, and I know that in some ways I give part of myself to them too. I lend my moments of strength for their grace, or they offer me forgiveness in exchange for companionship. We are there for the happy days and we are there for the sad days, some days we just need to spend with ourselves in quiet reflection, but we are always there. We love each other where we are at because that’s what friendship demands.
Loving someone where they’re at means loving them in their moments of distance, weakness, selfishness, or solitude. It’s finding the silver linings in their flaws and their feelings of negativity or inadequacy. It means working to help them overcome the challenges they’re facing, even if it requires selflessly ignoring your own.
My friends have taught me how to love myself by constantly and consistently loving me where I’m at. For that, I thank you…and I love you.