March 15, 2017

Unlearning the Boundaries of the Heart.

We sometimes let fear override our ability to love and to let others love.

We create jealousy, control, and ultimately heartache when we live so small. When we remember our true nature and the limitless aspects of our being, we are free and can allow others’ freedom.

I had a friend come to stay with me and my family after he left an incredibly abusive relationship. He was a mere shadow of his old self. Beat down, self-conscious and emotionally crushed. And then I met his son, who came with him.

This little fellow was a boy. True to the nature of a guy this age, he was argumentative, hard-headed, defiant—and I adored him immediately. I have three boys of my own, and he just came right in, plopped down, and set up camp like he was always meant to be here.

A long and stressful court battle ensued, even though the case was simple in my mind. It was hard on my friend and his son. Ah, but there is a process for a reason; while that process can be maddening sometimes, it’s also necessary.

My little “fourth” (I adopted him with my heart, thereby making him my fourth son) and I would have long conversations about life. Some things were important and others just silly, but he needed the time and attention, and I loved him.

The day that stays with me forever is the day we sat outside on the porch steps, just passing the time. We sat side-by-side in the sunlight enjoying the day, playing with the dogs. Out of nowhere, he got serious and pointed at the back of my car.

You see, my three boys’ names are plastered there with decals that depict an aspect of each one’s interest or personality. I have had fun changing them out as they get older and change with time. My oldest son’s name was spelled out in squiggly letters that matched his zombie decal. My middle son’s decal looked like dog-tag stamps and a zombie in military gear, and then my youngest son’s decal has always been Batman.

My fourth pointed his finger at the names and said, “I want to be on the back of your car, too.”

My face lit up with surprise and excitement. I hadn’t even thought of it. I can imagine how it must feel to be the odd-man-out on such a thing. I immediately answered, “What a great idea!” I asked him what he would like his to look like, and we planned it all out. Then his next words fell, and his excitement seemed to drain right out with them.

“My mom is going to get really mad.”

I thought about for a minute. He was quite possibly right. That would be a difficult situation to put him into.

“You know she might. She might be afraid that I am trying to take her place and that might make her mad and hurt her feelings. It’s a very special thing to get to be someone’s mom, and I would never want her to think that I would try to take that from her. Maybe you can explain to her that she is your mom and in your heart forever. Nobody can ever take that from her because you are protecting it for her.

Then tell her that the most awesome part about love is that it is limitless. It never runs out of space and it never stops growing—as long as you allow it. We all have room for as many people in our hearts as we could ever want to put in there. No one has to get bumped out to allow someone else to fit. You just tell her that I think she made an awesome kid and that she is very lucky to be your mom. Tell her that I am so happy to get to be a person who gets to know you and love you too—but never as your mother. Tell her I said thank you for sharing her awesome son with me.”

I don’t know if he ever had the conversation with her. I don’t know if it ever even came up. I do know that we took something from that conversation that day. I know that instead of feeling like a pawn in a war, he felt loved and cherished. I felt I had been able to give a gift without harming anyone. We both found that there is an easy, happy, and stressless way to deal with such a matter of the heart.

He knows that I care deeply about him. And I know that hurting his mother would have also on some level hurt him.

My fourth has moved on now. His dad is healed up, back on his feet, and the two are living happily together. He has found happiness in a new, loving relationship with a woman who has three kids of her own. My fellow is a fourth there as well—part of a loving little tribe they have come together and created.

No matter where he goes, he will forever be my fourth, too. The two years he spent here with me and my family was a gift and a memory we will always cherish. I am happy they found their place of belonging, and I have enough room in my heart for all of them—my fourth and his big, new tribe.

My takeaway from this experience has been an awakening of grace and openness. By turning down our head and turning up our heart, we can live from a place of true generosity of spirit. It’s about taking that extra moment to assess the other person’s emotions.

The mindful application of understanding gives us the availability to respond from a place of love. I hope my story inspires you to slow down, open up, and let more people in.

What an amazing world it could be if we all made an effort to live from our exponential place of love.



Author: Traci Burnam

Image: Flickr/Mads Bødker

Editor: Callie Rushton

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