“I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”
Granny recited the words of that old poem with a twinkle in her eye and sly grin on her face and I believed every word that she loved me. I didn’t know of bushels and pecks but I knew about hugs and a Granny’s love.
“I love you” wasn’t a routine saying in our house. The actions spoke it when I was little. When my adult years and geography separated me from my parents the words became a regular part of our long distance conversations. “Love you” was the last thing we’d say to each other. The words were sincere and flowed without struggle.
They knew me. Granny, mama, daddy, these people knew me. Knew my best subjects in school and my favorite hobbies. They knew the best parts of me and the parts that still needed work. I was born from their love. To believe they loved me was all I’d ever believed.
We take that word seriously. That love word. Sure, we toss it around in casual ways like I love that song or that movie but don’t play with that word when it comes to people.
Don’t tell me you love me if you don’t know me.
My brother and I know this guy who likes to tell his employees he loves them. He’s known them a few months and as he’s leaving their office he looks back and says, “Love ya”. Ah, no.
Much like Jack Nicholson’s famous scene in A Few Good Men when he says: “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” I want to say, ‘You love me? You don’t know me!”
You think you know me but you only see the good part. The part that posts pretty photos, inspirational verses and wise quotes on social media. You see the smiling face and easy laughter. You’ve seen me not at my best; a headache or a bit teary over disappointment or loss. You’ve seen me frustrated but that ends up in laughing at myself.
You don’t see the other parts where depression and anxiety rear their demanding voices and the fear of not being enough lurks around every thing I want to be good at. You don’t hear my tongue when it’s wicked with anger or gossip and tears down instead of build up. You don’t see that part of me. But here’s what I know, God does. And that’s the struggle.
You’re waiting for the bible verses, aren’t you? The ones where God declares his love for us. His unconditional love. The kind of love that can’t be earned but is given like an undeserving gift. The love that keeps no record of wrongs, loves me when I’m good, loves me when I’m not.
Those verse are good. They are true. I believe them. More for you, but I believe God loves us without reason, forever and completely. The Psalm that tells us he knew us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and the verse that says how much more he cares for us than the sparrows of the sky (Matthew 6:26). He loves.
When I was in kindergarten, I remember watching a show in black and white on our boxy television, called Romper Room. I remember two things from that show: the Do-be and Don’t-be song and the ‘magic-mirror‘. The teacher held it up, looked into it and called out names as if she was seeing that child in front of her. I waited every show for her to call my name. In my child-like faith I knew if she said Debby, it was me.
I long for that childlike faith to believe, every day, that God loves me. To lay down the struggle of not being good enough, of messing up again and again. To put aside the feelings and accept the truth that God loves, as the hymn says, even me.
The first step is a big one. It’s in learning to love ourselves first. On our good and bad days. We’ll never deserve it. But we don’t have to. That’s the good news.
Jesus loves me, this I know….and accept.
Linking up with Holley Gerth at Coffee For Your Heart