Love's Effigy

When I was a child, society taught me how to be loved:
I had to act a certain way,
Pick a certain job,
Look a certain way,
Believe certain things,
And always give to everyone,
Laying down my life for others,
Taking the smaller half of a shared piece of cake,
And being totally intolerant of anything and anyone that deviates from the acceptable norm,
Even to the point of self-loathing
When I did not conform
 
But love must be freely given to be love,
So if I am changing who I am or altering how I act
Or choosing a certain look, occupation, or belief,
To make someone love me,
I am not really being loved,
I am manipulating people into demonstrating affection
For an effigy that isn’t really me
 
And I think maybe it takes great faith to be yourself
And trust that love will come to you anyway,
If you choose to do what makes your heart sing,
And to express your authentic inner soul
 
What a strange and inexplicable world we live in
Because there is no truth in
“If I’m good, they will love me,
If I love them, they will love me,
If I’m kind they will love me,
If I follow the rules, they will love me,”
No simple bridge from cause to effect,
But only others’ incomprehensible choices that I cannot affect
 
But that’s the only way it can be, after all,
If love is really to be love
How terribly, terribly terrifying this is,
And yet, somehow, it’s beautiful, too
 
Maybe someday we will all have the faith that it takes to be ourselves,
And then society won’t place so many conditions on love,
And it won’t be so terrifying and lonely to be authentic,
For we will truly see and honor each other for the beautiful individual that is each of us
And there won’t be such a disparity
Between authenticity and being seen as valuable
It is then we will have closed the gap
Between being true and being chosen,
And it is then we will burn love’s effigy
In order to love unconditionally
 
And our society will be healthier,
And the individual will be healthier,
And the world will be so much better
When we can all be loved for who we truly are.

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