"In loss, I believe I can learn how well I did at giving love as God would. Of course, it will never come close to what He is exemplifying to us. There will always be more to learn."
- Debbie Laaser
"Love is an undefinable thing, and it is well that it is so, for only those who have felt its warmth will surely ever know." This was taken from a poem that my late husband, Mark wrote to me when we were dating. It meant so much to me at the time, and even more as I have aged. Love is hard to describe, and yet we know when it is present. It truly is a gift from God. It truly is God. Mark dedicated this book of poems to me…in the name of God, who gives us love to give and the Spirit to give it with.
This month does seem to send me to a reflective place about love. It especially has me contemplating how well I am doing at loving others. I believe it is the challenge God calls me to—to love others as God has loved me. The tricky part is that it needs to be genuine to be felt. It can’t be "surfacy" words or gifts that you receive with strings attached: I’ll do this for you if you’ll do this for me. It is not attached to guilt or shame or duty. It needs to be authentic. Love is an action word.
I find that it is easy to love people who are lovable. You know, people who love you back. People who do nice things for you and appreciate you, affirm you, and want to include you in their life--people who think like you do, hold the same values, and have the same interests. It is much harder to love when there are differences. It is much harder to give love when there is not much coming back.
I had the chance to practice this “one-way love” when Mark was dying. And more recently, this week, when Cali our rescue cat was nearing her death. It was a time of caregiving, of being sacrificial, of providing what they needed. It was a time of pouring out my heart with a love that was indescribable. In loss, I believe I can learn how well I did at giving love as God would. Of course, it will never come close to what He is exemplifying to us. There will always be more to learn. And that is why difficult times, times of differences, and times of loss can teach me so much as I reflect about myself. How can I be a little bit more loving and a little bit gentler with others the next time I have a chance?
But there is another part to love. Remember Jesus’ 2nd commandment: Love others as you would love yourself (Matt 22:37). Our great counselor knew that pouring out, pouring out, and pouring out without pouring in leads to a death of self. It leads to depression and burn-out. It leads to great sadness for God, our Creator, by ignoring his greatest gift of creating us with uniqueness and worth. Have you ever given someone a special gift that was unique and treasured and created especially for them—and then had them ignore that gift? Perhaps that is how God feels when we don’t acknowledge the gift of our life that He created for us. He wants us to love ourselves as He does.
To give sacred love and to receive it is an indescribable thing, and it is well that it is so, for only those who have felt its warmth, will surely ever know
May we live through the hard experiences of our life knowing that in them, God is leading us, if we choose, to love ourselves, others, and the world more completely. February has forever been the month of love. I invite you to take Jesus’ second commandment to heart: Love others as you would love yourself. Might He be calling you to do more of this... this month?
Debbie Laaser MA, LMFT, became the Director of Faithful & True, in 2019 after her husband, Mark's passing. She has facilitated therapy groups, individual counseling, and 3-Day Intensives for betrayed wives for over 20 years. Debbie is the author of several books, and her recent research project, "Posttraumatic Growth in Relationally Betrayed Women" was published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.