I’m working hard on a difficult personal assignment – the act of loving selflessly. This idea first came to light about fourteen years ago when I observed the effects of a selfish person’s love on his/her partner’s family. The person in essence through behaviour made the spouse alienate him/herself so much so that family moved around their calendar events to accommodate the few times they were invited over. Anything to see their son/daughter. That included swallowing a lot of bitterness at the selfish behaviour that became quite honed as time went by.
I cried when I saw what this did to my friend, and couldn’t fathom being in such a situation. My family means the world to me. I thought I’d die if anything came between the strong bond we have.
Seven years ago the situation came up yet again and I listened in mortified horror to a friend’s responses to my questions. “So it was your nephew’s birthday, did you see him?” No. The parents don’t celebrate their child’s birthday with extended family. “Why not just show up? They can’t very well kick you out?” They don’t answer or return calls, have excuses for every invite, prefer strangers to watch over their child–not even the mother who raised the son good enough to marry would do.
I’d huff and puff with indignation and vehemently spew all the things I’d say to her relatives were I in her shoes, but my friend looked me in the eye. “Julia,” she said. “As long as they’re happy, and they are, we sit and wait on the sidelines. When they invite us, we switch things around and move mountains to see them. People make choices, and families live with them.”
People make choices, and families live with them.
Five years ago, the same situation – a demonstration of what selfish love does to the partner’s family. This one hit close to home, and the pain was indescribable. I swallowed a lot of bitterness that only increased throughout the years as the behavior became cemented in bullet-proof evidence of an alienation, and complete breakdown of trust.
I worked to turn the situation in my favour by learning what I could do to help the situation, that is, how I could bridge the gap. Nothing worked. The people were insatiable in their selfish thinking and behaviour. It was them against the world, and the family that helped create the amazing person one party fell in love with, was now simply a thing to be tolerated.
I prayed for guidance once I determined relief was not forthcoming, because I wanted a forgiving heart. These people weren’t going anywhere any time soon. This was family. People make choices, and families live with them.
Mounting pressure and sweat beads as I pleaded with God for a resolution, at least for me. I made the deliberate and painful choice to stop forcing communication and contact, and prayed that every negative thought I had be replaced by abundant blessing on the couple and their family. I prayed that God work on me to mean it.
Slowly, I began to see the character traits that informed the selfish behavior. I accepted that this was just how the person was – love him/her as fully and as completely as I could. I turned my focus to sending out flare signals to those God would direct to my work on the potential fallout of selfish behaviour.
I met someone who’ll travel to the ends of the earth for me. It is clear that his love was meant for me. We share the same family values, but when I watched or listened to him, a part of me would panic. This man would do anything for me. My request would be his wish. If I wanted him all to myself, he’d make it come true.
Yes, even at the cost of his family.
I love family. I grew up in a loving household filled with deep love between parents, siblings, cousins and relatives. These experiences taught me to care, share, and look out for others. Life taught me to be strong, mean, and fight for myself. God taught me to ditch the foolishness, and rely on Him.
I, who’d never known a love as deep as this from a person destined for me, had the potential of hogging and hoarding it for myself. This would do nothing for the large family I envision, a family such as mine where cousins are friends and siblings share good and not just bad times and holidays together.
God knew that whom I chose determines the type of tree and fruits we produce, and He also knew that my powerful role as wife and mother would decide the health of my household.
One of the most painful experiences in my life taught me who I can’t be to the man who’ll do anything for me, and what I must do with a love that’s given and not earned.
I must make a responsible choice and thank God I’m on my way–because my choice is to unconditionally love. He chose me. I have nothing to prove. That’s his family – without them, he wouldn’t be here, whether he appreciates this or not. I accept the package, and greater yet, the challenge to continually fight myself so that it’s love, love, love.