07 December 2009
Loving me is...not that easy
I have often said that I wish I could find someone who would love me the way I want or need to be loved. Now, let me state for the record, there are plenty of people who love me...family, friends, old boyfriends...but if you have ever read the book THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman, you know that there are different "ways" to love people: acts of service, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and words of affirmation. I am not going to tell you which is the way I prefer to be loved, I am just going to leave it at this statement: the people who know me the best tend to love me the way THEY want to be loved and not necessarily the way I NEED to be loved...and that causes conflict, confusion and disappointment some times. It is not that they don't love me - they are doing the best they can and showing love the way they know how to...we just seem to keep missing the point with each other. I am learning to accept that things just will not change in that regard - people are who they are and for the most part, they really are doing the best they can do, but it is still hard to realize that some things are never going to change in that regard. But because I try to be honest about myself and my role in my relationships with others, I recently came to realize that I am guilty of the very same thing.
For example, my mother and I live together. I figure that since I provide the roof over her head, do most of the cooking in the house, pay the bills, etc., I am showing her love (acts of service). However, for my mother (who prefers physical touch and words of affirmation), she'd rather I tell her every day that I love her, that I hug her occasionally (I am NOT a hugger, for the record), and that at least once a week, we sit down and eat a meal together. Now, all of this sounds easy and uncomplicated, right? But it is "difficult" for me cause that is not the easiest way for me to show her love. Not that I don't do these things, but it takes more effort on my part to do them because it is not "natural" for me. Close friends think it's funny when they tell me "give your mother a hug and/or kiss for me" and I turn up my nose and say, "Yeah, I'll tell her you sent one." Just not in my nature to do that. Just as it is not within her to naturally love me as I would want her to. (and since I don't want to put her "on blast", I will not give an example, but she reads this blog, and she knows what I am talking about.) Don't get it twisted - my mom loves me, very much, and I know that and I am by no means implying that she doesn't...she just loves me in her way, which is not necessarily "my" way.
And it's the same way I interact with my friends as well. Recently, a friend and ex-boyfriend of mine told me that his mother wasn't doing well and asked would I please reach out and call her since she would love to hear from me. I responded that I would drop her a card in the mail. He insisted that a phone call would be better. Now, my immediate reaction was, "Shoot. You asked me to contact her. I'd rather send a card cause it lasts longer and she can look at it often in the future and besides, I really am tired and don't have the time and energy for a (long) phone conversation with your mom." And I told him this in so many words, but he was kind of insistent that I call his mom - which, honestly, made me a little salty and a lot resistant to the idea, but I was convicted to call her, so I did (under duress) and discovered that, for his mom, the phone call was more important than receiving a card in the mail - she wanted to hear my voice, not read a card from me. So, I am glad I stepped outside my own personal box of comfort to do it because of the joy it brought her.
Last example, my grandmother recently popped her hip out of joint and has been in rehab for a while. I went to visit her and as is my thing, showed my love by bringing her food and cooking while I was there because she kept complaining about the food in the rehab and how she wanted some "real good food". I love to cook, so it was a no brainer, easy way to show my love for her. But sitting in the rehab center on Saturday evening, I saw love in action. My mother and one of my grandmother's play daughters, Pearlstine, recognizing that my grandmother had been laying up in the hospital bed all day and that her skin was kind of dry from the stale air in the hospital room, took out some sage and chamomile shea butter that I'd given my grandmother a long time ago and lovingly massaged it into her skin to bring her some relief and comfort. As my grandmother ooo'd and ahh'd under their ministrations, I realized that she needed and desired that physical touch kind of love - which I never thought about and never would have considered doing unless she asked me (and admittedly, I probably would not have done it so lovingly and patiently either...hey, I know my limitations and shortcomings!) But I am eternally grateful that Pearlstine and my mother recognized her need and desire for that - and willingly gave it to her.
We all need love. We all need love the way WE want to be loved. And while I have not yet found the person here on earth who does that for me (which totally explains why I am still single and yet content in that state), I am glad that my Heavenly Father does know me and knows how I need and want to be loved. He shows it to me every day in a myriad of unexpected, surprising and "just for me" kind of ways. I could go on and on with testimonies of how, just when I am at my lowest, He sends an unexpected blessing my way in the form of a word of encouragement, or a phone call, or a card in the mail, or an email that brightens my day - something that lets me know that, not only am I on His radar, He knows just WHAT I need and in what form I need to receive it. I get called on the carpet for calling myself His Favorite Child, but I honestly believe that I am because He shows me that all the time just how much He loves and cares for ME.
And something tells me, He knows YOU and shows His love for you in just the same way. I am so glad that we don't serve a God who "cookie cuts" His blessings to us as if we are all exactly the same. The Bible tells me that He knows each one of us so intimately that He knows the number of hairs on our heads, which tells me that He knows me better than I know myself and He treats me accordingly. I really ought to serve Him better. Thank you God for loving me as I want and need to be loved and for showing me Your love every day.