Last weekend my mother and father helped at a church parenting conference, and after the event they brought a pamphlet espousing information from the event for our family to look at–the paper detailed that ideally we should eat together five times a week, pray together five times a week, and have a conversation five times a week. In this incredibly hectic time (driving in traffic, going to judo practices, attending small groups), doing anything five times consistently within seven days would be a grand feat. But then I looked at the starter questions we could use to start a conversation, felt a welling up of excitement in my chest, and thought to myself, “Yes!!! This looks great!!! We can do this!!!”
Why did I assume we could do these five activities Sunday through Saturday? Mostly because the pamphlet questions were quite thought provoking. Among the number of questions listed on the pamphlet, one in particular stuck out to me: What was a time when you felt loved?
Misha’s immediate reaction when she read the line was “well, of course when you and daddy hug and kiss me.” True. Physical reflections of love are what many people associate with the feeling: holding hands, hugging, and the like. But isn’t love more than just that?
True, I do feel a special warm feeling when Misha asks to snuggle with me at night. But I also get that same feeling when she draws a colorful picture of me and her with the big lettering “I Love You Mom” highlighted at the top of the page.
I also get that same feeling of love when my husband will give me this one particular smile when I say something funny. I can’t quite explain it more than it’s his “Asian Tom Cruise” grin, the one that made my heart (and many other teeny boppers who saw “Days of Thunder”) swoon. It’ll start with the corners of his eyes crinkling into a million creases, and then a huge grin will form from his upturned mouth. He’ll throw his head back in pure joy, and I feel loved.
But then there are other times when I feel loved that are, well, less than what society would consider “normal”.
Back when I was deeply struggling to make myself eat more than a Subway sandwich for lunch (and this was my one meal for the whole day) and running close to 80 miles a week, a friend openly spoke to me in a frank tone that I needed to get help. I did not feel the warm lovey-dovey feeling normally associated with love at that time, but those words of worry and concern were driven from that deep rooted emotion.
When I sat with colleagues at a department meeting and we openly discussed curriculum development and teaching methods, there was a time (or two or three) when what I mentioned about instruction was critiqued and questioned. During these times of “iron sharpening iron,” I felt loved.
Basically, what I found through all these examples is that love equals safety. Maybe it’s a physical sense of “I’m going to be ok because this person is hugging me” or maybe it’s a verbal affirmation of “This person is telling me he loves me.” Sometimes, it’s even the acknowledgment that I am so close and comfortable to another that she feels safe enough to be honest with me about even quite overwhelming issues.
I am definitely still learning about this topic. There is so much to learn and grow in, I doubt a 10 or even 20 minute talk about the issue will suffice. Thankfully, we still have four more conversations this week to chat about love…and five more the following week…and five more after that.