Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” A short, but lovely poem that succinctly describes the immeasurability of one’s love for another. But we do tend to measure many things about those we love, don’t we?… It starts from day one. Within moments of birth, the newborn is weighed and measured. The measurements don’t stop there. They continue with each month, each year, with each “milestone” that’s reached. The numbers are crunched and your little measurement is given a percentile that they fit into, showing exactly how they “measure up”. Once our child arrives, we can get carried away with imagining who he or she will become and how they’ll measure up. We imagine ballet lessons for our little girls and hockey practice for our little boys. We imagine that he or she will set the curve for all things measurable…but what if the immeasureable happens? Something that never entered our minds as we carefully plot out the future of our offspring. What if our little girl or little boy comes to us one day and shares that they’re not our little girl or little boy?…How does one measure this? It could be your 15 year old, or a dear friend that finally decides to reveal their truth to you. What do you do? Do you remeasure, recalculate, recalibrate your feelings? You’ve loved them immeasurably since they came into your life. That doesn’t change in an instant. At least, it shouldn’t. Yet sometimes, it does. But what about the kind of love that Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote so eloquently about? Whether that love is parental, platonic or romantic, it’s that boundless love that endures, even after death. How and why does it change for someone when confronted with the destruction of the illusion they have of someone? We all wear many different hats throughout our lives, yet fundamentally, underneath those hats, remains the person we knew and grew to love. If you loved them yesterday, the day before they shared their truth with you, how can you not accept them as they are tomorrow, or the next day? So perhaps, it’s time we measure some things about ourselves. Measure our compassion. Our capacity to understand. Our ability to let the person we care for express themselves in whatever way that may be, despite any discomfort that it may bring us. I’m entirely certain that the discomfort our loved one has lived with, far outweighs what we’re experiencing regarding this revelation. Love is quite a difficult thing to measure. In fact, I don’t think it truly can be. What I do know is, if you’re willing to let go of someone because they are not who or what you wanted them to be, the loss, on both sides, will be immeasureable. The measure of a person has little to do with appearances or preferences. So, love them the way they are because underneath the exterior of how they present themselves, they are who they have always been.
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