I have this sticker on my laptop, it says, “You Are Loved” and originally it was for the benefit of my fellow coffee shop dwellers, typing away on their own laptops. I imagined how nice it might be for someone to look up from their screen and see this beautiful reminder facing them. You, yes YOU, are loved. And then it it became the friendly reminder to my grad school cohort. Whenever we were together, laptops out, there it was. The big pretty heart. Don’t mind the scowling face on the other side of the sticker, I’m just thinking. Really, you are loved. It was my own passive aggressive way of paying love forward, bring a little random love into a stranger’s mind.

The sticker is worn and tattered. But she’s still hanging in there. 4 years now. Today though, if I could choose a different sticker, I would. More than being loved, I feel like people need to know, like deep down in their guts, that they are worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of struggle. Worthy of risk. Worthy of sacrifice. Worthy of respect. Maybe being loved isn’t the magic ticket. Maybe it’s knowing that you are worthy of it.

Up until this very moment, I’ve had a limited understanding of how we show our loved ones what they are worthy of. My goal as a younger parent was for my children to know that without a doubt they were worth fighting for. Fighting was my metaphor of choice. The brave heroine fighting through poverty, through oppression. Fighting the need for sleep or intimate companionship. I have fought many things for my children. My own demons not being the least of them. I will fight. I can fight. I am grateful for that knowledge and ability, I am unwavering in that regard. AND yet… that’s only one side of the coin. They are also worthy of being soft for. They are worthy of being kind for. They are worthy of my being able to open up and take risks for. They are worthy of my vulnerability and truth. I’m thinking of the ways I interact with the other adults in their lives. There is more to these relationships than my showing up to fight. I’ve had to show up in loving ways that I didn’t expect to. Sometimes that’s been the harder path to follow. But I’ve done it. And I’m proud.

I’m thinking of my mother and her recent stroke. The fighting metaphor failed me there as well. I had to show up soft. It was the more honest way of coping with the fear that she cold have just died. I could have fought the fear because she is worthy of a strong daughter that can fight through ¬†anything, even the fear of death. But that wasn’t real for me. What was real was how much I love my mom and how much I really, really do not want her to pass away any time soon.

And that bring me to me. I am worthy of this softness too. I am worthy of the kind words and thoughtful gestures of friend and lovers. I am worthy of opening and expanding outside of my comfort zone. I feel like showing up to love is the most worthy thing I can do.