Love Changes

Feb 1 / Natoya Taylor-Jones
As a former teacher, I often reflect on my teaching career. In reflecting on my former career, there is one word that comes to mind- LOVE. I loved every minute of teaching and cultivating young minds. Most of the time a curriculum or lesson plan was provided to teachers, but we also had the flexibility to be creative and teach from the heart. More importantly, teachers were given the tools to learn and grow into not just a better teacher but a better person inside and outside of the classroom. For me, anytime I think of that phase of my life, I think of how much love I was able to give and receive. However, although my teaching experiences were enjoyable, and I loved it wholeheartedly- at that time- I do not desire to return to a career in teaching. Why? Because my love has evolved into other areas, and what's more, I give myself permission frequently to allow my love to change. Whether it's a person. place, career, object or emotion, sometimes love encourages or requires a change.
As I write this, February is upon us. It is recognized as the month of love. And while I do love the month of February, in this moment, I am thinking about how being betrayed by a friend years ago required my love to change. I don't hate her. I am not under the weight of unforgiveness. However, the betrayal itself required- forced may be a better word- my love to change. It was painful. It was difficult. It was agonizing. What's worse? I am no longer the teacher; I am not in control at this moment. I am being taught a valuable lesson in grace, growth, and resilience. It was in that moment that I decided to give myself permission to change the way I love my friend. Although I love her, I must now change to a love that is deliberately distanced. Furthermore, I am conscious of her inability to embrace the true concept of friendship... at least my standards of true friendship. Does that make her a bad person? Does it make the situation hurt any less? How do I respond? I respond by looking into the depths of my core values. The one thing any of my friends can say about me is that I am loyal. I embrace loyalty with every fiber of my being. That is Natoya regardless of the betrayal.

In this month of love, please give yourself permission to allow your love to grow, change and adjust. Just as seasons change, people change, emotions change, and time changes, we must allow time for the adjustments that only love can make. However, in the changes- whether light or dark- stay with your core values. I always ask myself the following questions:

1. What do I allow love to add to my life?
I will allow my love for myself to help my change my daily habits. I need to exercise, drink more water, read and connect more with my spirituality.

2. What do I allow love to subtract from my life?
There is a family member that only calls or texts me when she needs something. I love her very much, but I am not her supplier. Therefore, I refuse to be in a relationship with someone whose motives are always to get something from me.

3. What is love asking me to change?
I am adding a greater dimension of grace and accountability to my life. Grace helps me to forgive and look at the positive in every situation. Also, grace causes me to be more accountable to the overall purpose of my life.

4. What does love want me to learn in the moment?
I am learning that sternly grasping the core of who I am is better than allowing life's hurts and pains to change me into a negative, unfulfilled person. I have always been a person of softness, deep and intense love, laughter, integrity, honesty and loyalty. I am an extrovert that loves to talk all the time to anyone who will listen. It's the true me I want people to remember when I am no longer on this earth. How do you want to be remembered?

Spend time alone meditating on the questions asked in this blog. Answer them sincerely and honestly. Make room for your love to change, grow and adjust. Evaluate it often. Embrace every experience that love brings- the good, the bad and the ugly. Above all, stay grounded in the core of who you are. Don't compromise the true you. In staying locked into your core values, you make room for a greater level of joy that only comes from being unapologetically, authentically YOU.