Love Gives Growth


The Power of Love

A former high school student of mine wrote me thanking me for what I did for him. He wrote that I saved his life, that I was the key component to his success. I took in the kind words, but knew that this was not about me. I only did a part of it. As the brilliant Carl Sagan wrote, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” 
I didn’t do everything for the student he credited me with. What I did was help: I loved him.
This is what I wrote:

All I did was give you love. Giving me the credit is crediting the rain alone for a plant growing or like you thanking the coffee farmer alone when you enjoy a cup of coffee. I was one part. It might have seemed like a BIG part at the time, but I was only a part. There were others cultivating you (school, Roger, your brother, your grandfather) and there was one other huge piece: you. Without you – all the watering, all the sun, all the soil – wouldn’t do much. Water, sun, and soil make mud – even when mixed in the perfect amounts. They need the seed – the important other piece – you. All I did was give you love – along with all the other love you had but might not have realized at the right time. You were set to blossom since the moment you took your first breath.

Love has such power.
Lao Tzu is attributed to have (but probably never) said: Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. 
I see something similar with wedding couples. Prospective wedding couples are a perfect cross section of people who recently came into being fully loved. Each member of the partnership can tell stories about how they have become more themselves since meeting their partner. They report being calmer, being more confident, lighter.
Teachers see this in classrooms frequently. Students really need love to blossom.
You can’t learn unless you feel loved – you can’t learn unless it is alright to make mistakes.
We only grow when we are in a supportive environment. 
Hours after our son was born and I was overwhelmed diapering my newly nascent child, my better-half proclaimed the first official rule of the Mayer family, “Everybody gets to make mistakes. Everybody gets to learn.”
Many years ago a school gave me a 2-year-below-grade-level-sophomore class. It was a group of kids who were just passed along because it was just easier. This cohort would be taking a high stakes test at the end of the year and the school, which would have lost autonomy if scores didn’t improve, tasked me with raising their scores. I met with these kids daily for 7 months, first period of the day. We did math, but, we did more than that. We talked about hamburgers. A lot. I don’t know why, but we did. We did math. I taught them about the stages of grief. We did math. I showed and taught them magic tricks. We did math. We all learned how to draw hamburgers. We did math. We talked about whatever was on their minds. And, we did math.
But, what we did most of all was have a community. A community based on love. And, you know what they did on the test, they tried their hardest – they scored higher than the other not 2-year-below-grade-level-sophomore classes.
I left that school at the end of that year. The principal (who I loved and who loved me) asked me in a way that I knew that she knew that the question was silly. She said, “The board of directors would like me to have notes of what you did to get the kids to achieve that success.” My eyes met her. I kissed my hand and put it to my heart. “I loved them,” I said. “That’s all.”
This week’s #wisdom_biscuit: Be loving – help others to feel loved.  

Share with a Friend


Also by Rabbi Brian

77% Weekly
Rabbi Brian

A Story of Humanity

A Story of Humanity   I’m the 30-year-old assistant rabbi of Temple Judea — a congregation of a few thousand in Tarzana, California.   It’s my

Read More »