“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.” – from Winnie the Pooh
I have a problem. I think it’s a good problem to have, if you’re going to have a problem. But as with all problems, it’s still a problem. And that makes it problematic.
I love too much.
It’s funny… the third time I met with my counselor, she said, “After you’d told me about all of your abuse, I was really surprised that you hugged me after the first session. A lot of abuse survivors are more hesitant to hug someone they’ve only met once.”
Well, I guess I’m the exception to the rule. I’m a hugger. But more than that, I love easily and I love hard.
So, what’s the problem?
When you love easily and you love hard, you get hurt and you get hurt a lot.
I meet people. I immediately see the best in them. I fall in love with them. And inevitably, I get hurt.
Gary Smalley uses an example that, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll water down. (You can find out more about it in his book, Love is a Decision.) But basically, he says that each of us is like a hand. Our fingertips are our spirits, our fingers are our souls, and our palm is our body. And when we get hurt, we close up like a fist.
In the past several months, God has begun to systematically do an overhaul in my life. One of the hundreds of things God’s been changing in my life is my relationships. Some of those who I considered close friends have wandered out of my life. And a few have flat-out rejected me—sometimes in bold, ugly, hurtful ways. In each of these instances, my initial reaction has been to close up. To withdraw from social situations—from church, from family gatherings, from social media—any situation that would require me to interact with and possibly get hurt by people.
Only an open hand can give and receive.
Honestly, I’ve come extremely close to withdrawing a number of times. But something has stopped me each time. Like my sweet friend who reminded me that when others decide to reject me and walk away from me, it’s their loss and that I have too much to offer the rest of the world to allow rejection to hold me back. And another sweet friend who emailed me on a day that I felt that withdrawing was a real option and told me that what I say matters to her and ministers to her.
My friend, Cecille, calls them “blessed subtractions”—those people who walk out of our lives for whatever reason. She figures that there was a reason they were supposed to go and that we shouldn’t see it as “rejection” but as “blessed subtractions.”
I think I’m starting to grasp that. As close as I got to shutting down, closing up, and withdrawing in these past months, instead I’ve become more and more determined to make sure that the people that remain in my life are loved and loved well. God’s brought some incredible people into my life during this period of time. He’s brought me some people that I can’t imagine not having the opportunity and the privilege of loving. And He’s brought me some people that probably need loving a little more than some others. And I’m so humbled that He’s brought them into my life.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t shut down, close up, and withdraw, because in keeping my hand open to give, I have received so much in return.
I was twenty-two before I figured out that Jesus loves me just the way I am. And only recently have I begun to realize that His love for me started long, long before that. I’m the girl that was always too fat, too ugly, too loud, too dumb, too slow, and too lazy. But it has been absolutely healing for me to see God, sitting in the workroom of Heaven, holding me and lovingly crafting me in the palm of His hand. And if you miss everything else I say today, don’t miss this:
You are loved! By me, but not just by me! He lovingly crafted you in His hand in the workroom of Heaven, too!