Saturday, February 12, 2011
As a very small, pre-school age child, I hadn't heard much talk about "love" in my home, but knew there was such a thing. I learned that behaving myself and doing what I was told, minding my mother and being cheerful got good results, i.e., "love." Not doing those things got bad results, and that made the "love" go away.
Or so I thought.
At least it felt that way to me, especially about my mother, as she was the person with whom I spent the most time and who seemed to have the power to add or subtract happiness in my day-to-day world. Oh yeah, and as time went on and I added a few years, I heard these words: "We love you, and we want other people to love you, too." Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, that was behavior-based love. In other words, if I was behaving myself as a child, my parents would love me. If I misbehaved as a child, my parents wouldn't love me, nor would anyone else. Actually, I should insert somewhere in the above paragraph that my father didn't say any such thing, nor did he give me any indication that the filial love which I could expect was based on anything other than the fact that I was, for all intents and purposes, his daughter. And I should also mention that much of this was a misconception on my part, as I was too young to understand that much of the negative stuff I observed and experienced was caused by some incredible stress that was happening in the lives of my parents, who did, in fact love me, and proved it over and over in ways which I've come to appreciate, now that I've learned what it's like to be a "grownup," :+). Anyway, at the time, I was given to understand that if I wanted "love," I'd better mind my P's and Q's....
Or so I thought.
We fell into the habit of going to church, and I heard about God's "love." That was a United Presbyterian church in Oregon, and this God I had been told about was depicted as somebody in a brown robe with a hood, looming out of the clouds and smiling in a funny sort of way at Earth. I know, because it's what I colored that morning on my Sunday School paper. I wasn't very impressed, and didn't much want to go back there. I'd find something else to do on Sundays, thanks anyway.
As mentioned above, there was this family crisis and we moved to Washington and started going to a different sort of church. I was taught different sorts of things than before, and the concept of God became a little clearer. Oh, okay, so I was going to be all right, after all, and I didn't have to worry. What I was now being told seemed reasonable, and the people who came into my life could be trusted. I had no worries, and things were going to work out just fine in my little life.
Or so I thought.
Well, some things happened, good and bad. The teen years were upon me and again, I was sitting in church listening to a visiting delegate from our religious organization (sigh). There was this guy in a black suit standing up front of the church full of really nice people, and he had come all this way, from Collingswood, New Jersey, and he was talking about what was going on in the world. I wasn't paying close attention, until he said sneeringly, in a big, deep voice, "Love!!!! Love??? Where have we heard THAT before??" He was talking about the peace movement and what was happening all over America at the time, as though it were a terrible thing. Wait a minute! How could anything about "love" not be good?? What?? He said the word "love," as though it were distasteful, used the word in such a way as to make us question and be suspicious about what we were seeing in the news and hearing at the dinner table.... Yes, he was, as though "love" was to be avoided. Very confusing. Right then and there I decided I wouldn't be influenced any longer by people like that, those leaders who wore the suits and did all the talking in that church, those who attempted to direct and tell me what to think and how to live. I could ignore them. That wouldn't be too difficult.
Or so I thought.
Anyway, the years and the miles have flown by, and I'm still in the process of extrication. I haven't changed my core belief about love and what it means, and what it doesn't mean. I'm nearly, but not completely free of all that. I still find it irritating when people attempt to impose their attitudes and beliefs on others, in the name of "love." Frankly, I've found more unpleasant and distasteful behavior, read more asinine comments and seen the judgment-passing by those who claim to "love" God and do his good works, than I've ever experienced by those who aren't going around touting their principles for living as godliness and lovingkindness. I have no more time for those who claim to love and be loved by God, yet are looking down their noses at those who feel differently and believe differently.
And so, that's my rant on this Valentine's weekend. My goal for the next while is to work on effectiveness and sincerity, effect an enhancement, so to speak.
It's about making my love.... more loving.....
Happy Valentine's Day!!
at 6:38 PM