Love to be Loved

I admit it. I want to be loved. I want to be loved by my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends… and well… everyone that knows me. I don’t like to be disliked. Is this egotism? Pride? Conceit? Self-centeredness?

Maybe. Or perhaps it is something our Creator wired into each of us. After all, love always desires a response. Jesus expressed this sentiment, as He stood on a hill, looking over the city below Him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

So, perhaps it’s not wanting to be loved, that is wrong. I think this strong desire to receive love gets me into trouble when it becomes my obsession…. When I put more focus on getting love than on giving love. I have found that the more I fret and fume over the failure of others to fill up my “love tank,” the emptier I feel. However, as I focus on giving love, somehow I don’t feel so short-changed. Plus, amazingly, more love seems to come my way, when I’ve been going out of my way to extend it to others.

Jesus lamented over Jerusalem’s lack of love for Him, but in spite of His disappointment, He still reached out to that city… eventually, even being willing to be martyred there. He didn’t reject those who had rejected Him. He kept on loving. That’s a “beyond-natural” kind of love. That’s a love that gives even when it doesn’t get a thing in return.

I need that kind of love. I need it when my husband forgets my birthday, or fails to notice all I did to help him. I need it when my child accuses me of being mean, when I know I was simply protecting him from harm. I need it when my friend chooses to spend time with someone else instead of with me. I need a love that gives, not expecting or requiring something in return.

It is, after all, pretty easy to love those who are being sweet and kind to me. It’s when they’re being nasty, rude and insensitive that love becomes more of a challenge.

This was undoubtedly what Jesus was getting at when He said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back…. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:32 – 38)

So what does all this mean when I wake up tomorrow morning? I think it means that when I get to having a personal pity party because the people in my world are neglecting me, misunderstanding me, mistreating me, misjudging me, disappointing me… I will make a choice to duck out of that party. I can do that by praying something like this… “Lord, what my husband (or child, or friend) just did (or didn’t do), really made me feel bad. It felt so UN-loving! But Jesus, with Your help I know I can forgive him. I choose to do that right now. Lord, would you bless him today please? Would you do something really good for him? And Lord, if you want ME to bless him in some way, I’m willing… give me a good creative idea of how I could do that. I want to show love. Thank You for helping me.” And then I get busy behaving like I love him… I smile at him, speak kindly to him, help him, show affection to him. My mother-in-law used to define love as “a commitment to sacrifice of myself for the GOOD of another person.” So, I get busy doing what’s good for my husband.

What happens then? Will he love me back? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I’ll still long for his love. But in the meantime, I think I’ll feel a whole lot more content. And I admit it… contentment is something I want too!