True Love is Selfless
What comes to mind when you think about the word selflessness? Do you think of new parents learning to shift their focus from themselves to their newborn’s needs? Maybe you think of volunteers who compassionately carve out time to help others despite their busy schedules. There are so many ways that people are selfless every day. I know in my own life, watching my mother struggle with cancer with such grace and thoughtfulness for those around her has been a constant daily reminder of how to be selfless. She always jokes to keep smiles on our faces, and while most people would understandably dwell on their pain or anger in this circumstance, she instead maintains a positive attitude to encourage others. Around the holidays, 20/20 featured a story on a woman also facing cancer who demonstrated one of the most altruistic examples of selflessness I’ve ever seen. She was the matriarch of a happy family when she was first diagnosed, and as the disease progressed, it became clear that she didn’t have much more time. Unbeknownst to her husband, she wrote a letter addressed to him and his potential future wife and entrusted it to a friend with strict instructions not to give it to him until the right time. Years later, the husband did meet a lovely woman and proposed to her; he was then given a very precious gift from beyond the grave. His wife’s letter thanked this new woman for being in her family’s life, and being there for them when she could not. She told his new fiancé that there was nothing more she wanted than for him to remarry down the road, and she even had arranged to provide this woman with a day of pampering to show her gratitude.
Wow. How many of us could be that selfless in our lives, and especially at such a difficult time? To think that while she was going through so much physical and emotional pain, she still took the time to do such a selfless act should be an inspiration to all of us.
As the divorce rate rises, it seems like more and more people always go into relationships from a “me” perspective. They think to themselves, what can I get out of dating this person? Do they fit my checklist? Will I get everything I want? However, not many people look at relationships from a giving (instead of taking) viewpoint. For instance, when you love someone, asking yourself, how can I make my partner’s day just a little bit brighter? Or what can I bring to this person’s life or give to grow love between us?
In the case of this woman’s letter to her husband’s new love, this was a gift that will bond their family like no other. She knew that by giving him this gift, it didn’t mean he had to stop loving her. He would always love her and remember the times they shared. That is true love. This story inspired me to look at things differently, to be more open, and realize that true unconditional love is still out there.
In a world that sometimes can appear very selfish, acts of selflessness restore faith in humanity and the goodness in others.
Brenda’s amazing act came from a place of sincere love and serves as inspiration to so many others to do the same. We have probably all been to a wedding at some point in time that has shared the very popular bible verse about unconditional love below. I think it perfectly articulates the state of selfless love, and I’d like to end with it here as something for you to reflect upon:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.