Dear Changing: A Letter to Those Learning How to Be Loved

Dear Changing,

If I tell you something that might sound strange, will you believe me? It’s taken me a long time to believe it myself, but I think I’m finally there and I want you to be too. Here it goes:

You should be loved in whatever way makes you feel loved. 

For a lot of people, that’s in hugs. Or notes. Chocolate bars, flowers, a spontaneous movie, filling up the gas tank, taking out the trash. It’s often as simple as saying “I appreciate you” or “I love you.”

Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages, and it’s a best seller. We’re talking millions and millions…and millions of copies. It lists the five ways people feel loved, and rates them according to how you answer a questionnaire. But you know what I’ve found, Changing? Love isn’t like math. (Thank goodness, amiright?) The answer changes over, and over, and over. Maybe even every time you try to solve the problem. There’s no formula you can follow. But again, unlike math, it’s so, so worth it to keep finding what works.

One time my friend and I both took the Love Languages quiz, and our results were practically the same.

This friend later asked me to marry him, and I said yes. His results are still the same, but mine look as if a dog tried to order them the same as the first time. (No offense to any dog. I love you. You’re a good boy, yes you are.)

At first, I had a mini identity crisis.

I’ve always loved hugs. Why do I not love hugs anymore? What became wrong with hugs? Come back, hugs. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I changed. I had gone from a bad time in my life when I rarely saw my siblings, was on bad terms with my parents, friends came second to jobs, etc., and I wasn’t hugged. Then I got a boyfriend/fiance, and hugs were a must have. Essentially, he had done such a good job of loving me that I wasn’t starved for physical affection anymore. On the flip side, things that I used to think threatened my independence (accepting gifts, having someone run errands for me, pick something up for me, etc.) became so much more meaningful as I matured.

Changing, it’s a scary thought to look back on your life and think How did I get here? Just know that you never have to think that about being loved. There are times in your life where more than anything, you will want a 10 minute cry fest with someone special. There are other times when you will just want him/her/them/all y’all to do the dishes just once, for Pete’s sake. And yet other times when nothing but one of those giant Hershey kisses will do.

And that’s all okay. Geographically, you will move. Mentally, you will learn. Physically, you will grow. Spiritually, you will mature. You will be introduced to so many new things that you didn’t know in your first 10, 20, 30 years of wherever you started out. You will need to be loved in new ways.

Let me tell you why that’s okay, Changing.
Jesus didn’t say “Thou shalt love in the same for always and eternity.”

He said to love like He did. (John 13:34).
Jesus didn’t say “Thou shalt never change the ways in which thy show affection.”

He just said love, because my Father loved you. (1 John 4:11).

Jesus didn’t say “The person you married will always be like that, so figure out how they feel loved and you’re set.”

He said love each other, really mean it, and don’t whine when it’s hard. (1 Peter 4:8-9).

Find some way to love today, Changing, and know that you are loved as well.

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