A couple of weeks ago I got to hold two precious newborn babies in my arms.
Baby Micah gazed up at me with his innocent eyes, swaddled burrito tight in his blanket. Holding him took me back 27 years. Back to the hospital where I gave birth to his mom and held her in my arms for the first time. The shape of his eyes, his hairline, the delicate button of a nose, the way he feels. All her.
I’ve been thinking about the word intention a lot lately. How things I do and actions I take are fueled by the reason I’m doing them.
Intention is the energy behind the boomerang of our choices. The invisible power that connects cause and effect. The pattern of which our lives are sewn from no matter how conscious or unconscious our choices may be.
As a young kid, my grandmother (who we all called Nanny) drove me to church on Sunday mornings. I was a bit sloth-like in the first hours of the day so Nanny would check in on me to make sure I was getting ready. This would happen after she stood next to my bed saying “hop up!” repeatedly in an effort to delicately wake me. For the record, I have never in the history of waking in the morning ever “hopped up.”
At the time I didn’t understand the concept that if Sunday School starts at 10am, why can’t we leave at 10am? I wasn’t accounting for the journey in between, Nanny would explain. It takes time to get there.
Time. The ticks between sunrises and sunsets and all that happens in between. Our attempt to categorize our life into order so that we may stamp when catastrophe hits or miracles happen and the things in between like doctor visits, milk expiration dates, birthdays and anniversaries.
As I’ve learned, time and intention don’t necessarily care about one another.
While intention is the energy an action rides on, it could care less how much time the intention needs to return or come to a conclusion. The time in between our intentions and the reality they create is the messy place we get to live in. Nothing is guaranteed. This is the ache of vulnerability. To take action with an informed intention and not expect a certain outcome is living with a wide open heart. Not so easy to do, but fulfilling beyond measure.
When I was a scared, lonely 16 year old, I placed my bundle of breathing innocence wrapped in a blanket into the arms of strangers so they could raise her. I didn’t know how it would go, nor had I given any thought to the word intention, but I knew I loved her. I loved her in a way I could not describe or understand, but knew deep in my bones, deep in my heart. A love that no one could take or destroy. It felt private and untouchable. How I articulated this feeling in the privacy of my body and mind was with bottomed out pain.
At the time I did not think this love was taking good care of me because when I thought about what was being asked of me and what I was doing pain engulfed me and gut-wrenching grief swallowed me. It was almost too much to ask of myself. It took me to the edge of what I thought was capable for me to hold and do. I did everything to resist it. I didn’t want to make this choice.
I could fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans two days out of the hospital, so I thought maybe I could go back into my old life unscathed. There was nothing I could do about this, so maybe the feelings and stretch marks could be hidden behind silence and clothing. I gave it a try and latched on firmly to the world of pretending not to feel and one piece swimsuits. My feelings seemed too big to share.
This would lead to a rock bottom many years later. But as I stood in my baby’s living room and held her babies in my arms only days ago, something happened. There was a swirling in my heart, a resonance and recognition of love deep in my bones. My body floated off the ground yet was also firmly planted on the earth. Then it became very clear to me: all that love I had stored away like out of season decorations was unpacking inside of me.
It began to unpack when I reunited with the baby girl I’d handed off so many years ago, but this felt different. There was no guilt attached or nervousness. A warmth rose inside of me as a thought planted in my head. The intention I gave my baby away with all those many years ago was back in my arms. Only it had multiplied. I whispered thank you to the new baby boys as if I was looking into the face of God.
I became curious a while ago about what drives my actions, as I guess we all do as adults. I check in regularly with my feelings and know now they are never too big to share. I see how inextricable my feelings and actions are. Am I scared? Am I worried? Am I in need of approval? Am I in need of validation? Yes, probably all of these things a lot of the time, but – and here’s the big but, is there love underneath it all? Does it feel like truth to me?
Planting seeds of a love based intention doesn’t always feel like rainbows and lattes. Sometimes it is excruciatingly painful. Fiercely releasing something or someone because you love them can come with a deep ache.
What I’ve learned is somehow when you go through with it anyway, and the boomerang makes its way back to you, it’s like the blessings bus makes an extra long stop at your house and rainbows and lattes pour out on you in unbelievable amounts. More than my mind could conjure.
If I could go back I’d hold that scared 16 year old in my arms and tell her that the pain she is feeling is how deep the love for her baby goes. This is what loving deeply feels like. I’d tell her how capable her heart is of holding deep love and what a blessing that is. I’d tell her the intention behind her action to let her baby be raised in the loving arms of adults is love fiercely letting go to become something bigger. To multiply.
When I shut down my feelings all those years ago, I also shut down the feeling of unrelenting love and my sensitivity. There were moments in my late teens and early twenties when I asked myself if I was capable of feeling love. I didn’t see the correlation between shutting down the pain and shutting down the love. I’d buried it all.
Anything done with the intention of love works out. It may not work out tit for tat, or how we want it to, but ultimately it becomes something good. It’s the nature of this complicated, messy world we live in. What matters more than what anyone thinks, or what culture says or dogma dictates is that the intention of love is the ultimate truth. It is freedom because love can never be bound. It only ever grows and expands.
The waiting require one thing: release. We can’t hold on tight to what we think should happen because that’s not love that’s control. There’s no guarantee of how much time it takes to get there or what it will look like when it comes back. Time and intention don’t care about one another.
Facing something hard is inevitable if you’re paying attention.
You probably have things that have unfolded in your life that have surprised and bewildered you. Things that were hard at the time and softened on the return. This is the intention of love in the painful moments. The actions that are painful to go through with but we do it anyway because it’s an answer to a call for more love – a higher love. A love that perhaps can not yet be understood. A truth that runs deep within. I believe this is what strengthens our connection to one another. Walking in the direction of the fierce truth of love, no matter where it takes us.
Sometimes the fierce truth of love looks like two babies resting softly in your arms. The time in between was not easy. There were days when I thought my longing would devour me whole. But it never did.
I’m sharing this with you today because you might be holding in the space of unknown return. That place where you’ve made a hard choice and have no evidence of it working for you. It’s working. Somehow it’s working.
Whatever intentions of love you’ve made, no matter how painful, sometimes the best we can do is remind ourselves why we planted the seeds, took the step, left the relationship, said no or said yes and did the hard thing. Remembering the intention behind it keeps us tethered to the truth no matter how choppy the waters become. Like a lighthouse, our intentions made from a place of love keep us in the light even in our darkest days.
Society wants to tell me that being a grandma means I’m old. Instead, I like to think that this new season of life is me getting to catch the boomerang of love I threw so many years ago. Only I needed both hands to catch the return and a much, much bigger heart.
Don’t give up.