Choosing to love is a decision to be made without expectation of reciprocation. This is a love story from my personal journey.
Most of us have spoken the words “I love you” many times over the course of our lifetime. There are many different types of love . Perhaps we would save ourselves confusion if we simply asked for clarification when we hear those words spoken to us! Love is far more complex than the romance and intimacy version “eros.” Love is ultimately a gift one person chooses to give another, whether or not it is rejected or reciprocated.
My dad was the first person who demonstrated the profound meaning of love through action. He was the 10th of 11 children, so his ability to show love had nothing to do with his ability to lavish me with material possessions. Through his story telling, giving of his time, gentle touch and comforting after a childhood injury, piggyback rides, defending and providing for my safety, he showed me a love story in small intangible ways. I always knew I held a special place in his heart. I also knew I could unconditionally trust my daddy with my whole heart. He was my childhood protector and “knight.” My dad exhibited a love story of the natural affection a parent has for their child.
As I grew older and became a young adult, I experienced a disconnect between those outside of my own family who said they loved me, but whose actions failed to demonstrate that love. Suddenly the words “I love you” became twisted into deceptive, hollow words that had no value whatsoever. This deceptive counterfeit love became not only conditional but temporary and revocable.
Real love should never result in brokenness or dishonor of the other person. Love is not a consuming fire that leaves the one who is loved in ashes. Love should not cause pain or result in drama or destructive behavior. Rather love should build up the other up and result in joy.
Sadly, some have spent a lifetime in pursuit of love that seemed to evade them at every turn. What then, does it mean to love and why is it important to be able to extend love to others? I think God’s word demonstrates a love story toward each of us far better than I ever could.
1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I mentioned earlier that love is an action word. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Do you know someone who would actually die for you regardless of whether your behavior was good or bad? I do. His name is Jesus.
John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Isn’t the insecurity of fear really a lack of trust in the other person? Lack of trust comes from a place of brokenness.
If you truly know how to extend love to another person, then you are bearing fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
How is this a love story from my personal journey? “I have been persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:9
On my journey, I have been loved with empty words and actions. I have been “loved” as a consuming fire and left to gather up the broken pieces and sweep up the ashes of what was left. I have given of myself and been left a broken, wounded person afraid to trust and love again. Over a period of many years I finally forgave myself for my own mistakes and errors in judgment. I was angry with myself for choosing to accept crumbs rather than the feast God had prepared for me. I mourned the wasted years and broken trust. Where, I wondered, was this man by God’s own design who knew how to love and to demonstrate love to me? My Daddy had taught me about this kind of love, so surely it still existed!
Do you recall the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember the day Forrest decided to start running? He ran without a purpose or destination in mind. He amassed a huge following of other people willing to run aimlessly alongside him. Just as suddenly as Forrest decided to stop running, so did I. One day I decided I had run long enough and had lived as a broken person long enough. I finally decided to allow God to reassemble the broken pieces of my heart and restore me to wholeness. It had only taken me 26 years in the healing process!
What happens when love dies or when you realize you were given counterfeit love versus the real deal? Does the love you once freely offered then turn to hate or scorn for the one who rejected your love? The answer is: only if you allow it. We can choose to allow God’s unconditional love to transform and restore us from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness. First we have to release the crumbs and hurt we are holding onto with clinched fists, give it to God and allow Him to heal us.
I have now made the choice to love—even without reciprocation. When I say “I love you” I truly mean it. My friends hear these words from me and know I mean it through my actions. I have learned to love the person and the heart and soul of the person, rather than the gift wrapping on the exterior. If that person rejects the love I offer (whether it is the love for a friend or something deeper), then that is their choice not to accept the gift I offer them.
I am finally strong enough and confident enough to walk away from any relationship that is not fashioned by God’s design and still remain a whole person. No longer will I leave broken pieces of my heart and my life strewn behind. That is a love story for me, a gift from my Heavenly Daddy whose capacity for love far exceeds anything my Earthly Daddy could ever give. I choose to love, knowing that giving love to another doesn’t diminish me, but enriches my own life in the process.
What about you? Have you ever known someone who simply could not say the words “I love you” and the best they could say is “I care for you”? I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships, Fear, Seniors Dating, The Journey, Uncategorized by Pam Baker-Redman with no comments yet.
The dating experience isn’t what is used to be. Dating is far different than when I was in high school in the late 1960’s. Blood tests used to be required before a marriage license could be issued. In fact when I married in 1968 (at too young an age), I recall having to have those same obligatory blood tests. I never knew why, in fact I didn’t even know what those tests were supposed to reveal. I simply knew having the required blood tests were the law. Ironically, those laws were changed shortly before HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C were in the spotlight. Dating for Nurses was written because of concerns about transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. When you’re a Registered Nurse or health care professional, there is nothing casual about dating relationships, regardless of the reckless behaviors you see portrayed on such popular TV series as Grey’s Anatomy.
I am not proud to say that I’ve had two failed marriages. Both of those marriages ended because I was the one who filed for divorce. Those irreconcilable differences were because I have a “no share” policy. I simply will not stay in a relationship with someone who is sexually immoral. (Matthew 5:32) For more than 25 years after the last marriage ended, I did not date. I simply had no desire to date. I had given up on marriage or having a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex. My focus was on the important tasks of educating my children and obtaining my baccalaureate degree in nursing. I was totally committed to these tasks because there was no room for failure.
I have seen many newly-divorced men and women in our church singles department jump back into new dating relationships too soon, bringing their brokenness with them. They hadn’t taken time out to heal and to learn from their past. Too often, newly divorced people don’t even know what they want (or don’t want) in a relationship. A friend once told me that if someone was 80% of what I was looking for, then the relationship was worth exploring further. This was wise counsel. If I happen to encounter, my Mr. Right, I’d first like to know WHY he is my Mr. Right instead of another Mr. Dead Wrong.
One day at church, I asked our singles minister if he thought I’d been single long enough now so as not to appear to be rushing into a new relationship if I decided to date again. My question was met with laughter (the reaction I expected). He assured me that I have certainly been single long enough. Taking time out is not a bad thing. I took 26 years.
Dating for seniors (& I don’t mean high school) is challenging. Dating for nurses is even tougher. In a nurse’s world, there is nothing casual about physical contact. I have been a nurse for 26 years and counting. In that time frame, I have worked in most every practice setting of nursing, from public health to correctional (prison) nursing. I have provided direct care to patients with Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), C. difficile, Hepatitis A, B & C, venereal warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, scabies, herpes, shingles, tuberculosis (TB) and more.
My nursing specialty for the past 18 of those 26 years has been wound care. I have vigilantly used personal protective equipment of masks, gloves and gowns. I have had several unfortunate exposures from sharps and needle sticks, but thankfully I have not contracted a communicable disease.
Dating for nurses is a unique and scary experience. A nurse goes from an environment where they take extreme care to prevent exposures and exchange of bodily fluids that would put them at risk. Sometimes nurses know when someone has a communicable disease. Sometimes we have already been in contact with them before we know. Sometimes we never know.
Recently I broke my 26-year time out and accepted a dinner date with a gentleman who seemed to be very nice. I use the word “seemed” because when you first meet someone, you receive only the information they want to share. In high school, most of us had very little (if any) prior dating history. Throughout several decades of life, a relationship history develops and the exposure risk goes up exponentially.
“Bill” was very thoughtful; he even brought a single red rose to our first date. That was a first for me. Holding hands was awkward. I don’t recall anybody ever walking beside me and holding my hand before. I recall thinking it would be nice to get used to this. I was aware of my own need for personal space. This experience is brand new in this chapter of my life. We had a nice dinner together and after several hours of great conversation (& laughter), it was getting late and time to say good night. I had told him beforehand that I needed to take things s-l-o-w. Why rush after 26 years of time out? The kiss on the cheek was stolen and I felt my face blush. I suddenly realized that I really knew nothing about this man. Before you think “oh how sweet,” let me remind you this article is about dating for nurses. There is nothing casual about a kiss. It is no longer the 60’s and we are no longer children. Not even a background check would reveal the kind of history a nurse would be concerned with knowing. It’s that whole exchange of bodily fluids thing that makes me cringe now. When I was 16, I never gave a thought to exchange of bodily fluids with a single kiss.
There was not a second date. That was my decision because of several phone conversations we had later in the week. I discovered there were major “issues” with estrangement from family and major differences in some really important personal values. Sometimes it is easier to see the reality before the vision gets clouded with romance. Perhaps that’s an advantage to being more mature. Perhaps it’s a disadvantage. I just know that I made a promise to myself that the husband I would choose if I married again would be a man of strong faith and a spiritual leader. He would be a man committed to family and serving the Lord. “Bill” was neither. That didn’t make him a bad person, that just meant he wasn’t my “Mr. Right.”
For those of you who have dated after you became health care professionals, what went through your mind, even with a kiss? How much did you know about that person you had intimate contact with? Did you use personal protective equipment? We are certainly trained to protect ourselves at work, why not elsewhere? Just because there is no risk of pregnancy doesn’t mean there isn’t risk of communicable disease. It’s something to think about and prepare for in advance. There’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned dating and abstinence (no sex until marriage). That’s an excellent example of taking it s-l-o-w and getting to know your partner’s history before you commit your life (& perhaps your health) to the relationship.
I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
32 oBut I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and pwhoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships by Pam Baker-Redman with no comments yet.