In October 2017, I was as single as ever with no romantic prospect in view. I had spent the evening with a friend in a town about an hour from my home. As I was driving home through a dark canyon, sadness and loneliness were suddenly encroaching upon me. My thoughts and emotions were spiraling down with the want to be loved.
Two of my greatest fears have been that I am not loveable and that I bring out the worst in others, particularly men. I was cataloging all my past relationships in the most negative way. As my thoughts and tears were spiraling down, I suddenly heard the question, “would you rather love or be loved?”
This question came as a still, small voice. My first answer was that I wanted both, and I figuratively stomped my foot as I rationalized why both were important and it wasn’t a fair question! Then came the quiet and still directive, “Choose.” I turned off my music and reflected. I realized I had the most joy and gratitude when I loved, especially when I was used by God to be an instrument to show another of his children His love.
So I answered, “to love.” Then came the reply, “that is a Godly attribute.”
The conversation was over, but the lesson had only just begun as my eyes were opened to see some of my experiences from a new perspective. I realized how often I was motivated by being loved. I saw how most of the hurt I had experienced and caused in life was from feeling unloved and then, in turn, withholding love. I also realized that I did not typically act in a way to show that my desire was to love rather than be loved. The short conversation showed me that I needed to refocus and retrain this desire.
This has been one of the harder changes I’ve had to make in my life as it is often subtle and takes more introspection than reaction. So I began striving to put showing love over my desire to be loved.
I threw out scorecards I was hardly aware I was keeping to see if everything was reciprocated that I gave. I stopped thinking that I wouldn’t text or call a friend because it was their turn to reach out to me. I still fall back into some of my old habits or ways, but I catch myself, especially if I start to feel low or bad about myself.
Instead of cataloging my wants, I look at if I am showing love or not. Focusing on giving love has brought me much more happiness and peace and improved all my relationships.
There have been times that I felt silly, awkward, and even hurt by how something was received, but I remind myself it’s not about me. It is always better to show love and act in love. With some, it takes many attempts and creativity to find how someone will feel loved. Some need the continual effort to trust it. If you’ve been reading my monthly posts, then you know I divorced 12 years ago. Not quite 3 years ago, I began dating the man who will be my husband in 12 weeks. This lesson about love, I’ve applied to our relationship and is one of the reasons I think it’s thrived and been so healthy. The biggest surprise has been, as I’ve focused on giving love, is that over time I’ve felt more love in return. When I began focusing on giving love to others in new and varied ways, my vision corrected so that I could better see how others were already showing me love in their way.
Our Savior Jesus Christ epitomized this concept, even in his most painful moments and greatest time of want, he still sought to show love. He saw to His mother’s care as he hung on the cross and forgave a thief all while he was being mocked and dying. I believe that Christ knew he felt closest to His Father when he served and showed love and continued to do so even while He felt forsaken by Heavenly Father.
How do you show love? Do you try to show love in different ways? Why do you show love? I hope as you try to show love for its own sake, you will feel God’s love that He has for you and all His children. Trish