Lately, I have been working on loving others. But yesterday, something occurred to me. I could also use some work on learning to be loved.
It comes along with the “victim” mentality I think, that ability to learn not to be loved.
My first real dating relationship was misery. I went in expecting love, and to be loved. Nothing wrong with that, right? Except, he was not ready to love. He was manipulative and pushy, and I knew the red flags were there. But, he liked me, and I liked having a boyfriend. I liked that he told me I was beautiful, never mind if he used that to manipulate me. I needed to be told I was beautiful, and for the moment he filled the void.
And through this, I learned that to be loved, I had to perform. The constant threats of suicide if I didn’t do what he asked, the constant threats that he would leave me, the constant ridiculous sick requests that I would comply with – why – out of fear. Fear of being unloved. Never mind you that my parents loved me like crazy. Never mind you that I had heard all my life that God loved me. It wasn’t enough, I needed his love. And it eventually led to date rape, the ultimate violation, where I learned that not only did I have to constantly reciprocate to receive what I saw as love, but that being loved meant being hurt.
So…to me…being loved is difficult.
It is difficult for me to accept a compliment as genuine. In the past, if you complimented me, I believed one of two things. That I didn’t deserve your genuine compliment, and I must instantly reciprocate so that I can maintain my shame. Or that you are completely in-genuine in what you say, and I need to keep you at a distance to protect myself.
You can imagine the disasters this can create in a relationship. My natural tendencies would be to either smother you with reciprocation because I believe that I am not worthy of anything you say about me. I have to give it back to you. Or…I am completely fake and tend not to believe a word you say – thus maintaining the protective wall.
Counseling has helped me with these tendencies. But, my natural pattern, the pattern I revert to when I am stressed, goes back to the above.
I guess that’s what I find so amazing about Jesus. He requires that I learn to be loved. He reminds me that there is no way I could ever deserve or earn an ounce of his love. I am not worthy of it, and even if I smother him with praise, I still am not worthy. Only through Christ, only through learning to accept Christ’s love, to be loved, can I be made worthy. Learning to be loved…a step on the journey.