I knew what he would say before I gifted him. I had heard it before.
I knew the phrases. I knew the tone. I knew what would come.
He tells me “Be yourself.” *exhale* Whew.
And so, I give gifts or cards or trinkets.
It is said that we love from the place that we need to receive love.
I guess I need presents (NOT expensive ones)
and written words on paper …
because these are the things that I give.*shrugs shoulders*
When I put away Christmas ornaments, I bring out Valentine’s decorations.
When I put away Love …. I bring out love.
So, at their last visit, Jet mentioned the decorations. Still mid-January he questioned why I had them up and what they were about. I explained that I think we should celebrate every day … so I love to decorate for each holiday. Stone chimed in that “Valentine’s is a girl holiday ….” with the undertone that women at Hallmark thought it up so that they could be lavished with presents (his words from another conversation.)
Later he tells me, “This is why guys h.a.t.e Valentine’s Day: On February 15th, girls go to work or the store or talk to their friends and they are asked what they received for Valentine’s and then the friends proceed to tell the girl how she should dump the guy because his presents aren’t good enough.” I’m not sure what to do with this interpretation of the holiday. *scratches head*
I’m often taken aback by his illustrations like this. I wonder where he has learned these things? I ponder the company he has kept. I would never think such a thing and I’ve never been privy to this type conversation. My friends are not like this.
And so … I work to break down another brick wall of skepticism about women.
I hide a box of chocolates on Jet’s bed under his pillow with a prized Lego set wrapped in white paper …. red curl ribbon cascading down. He will find it on the weekend after my visit … just before Valentine’s Day. I am excited to think of his happiness. And I hope I am tearing down walls built by his father that women are selfish and only want to receive.
I send Stone a card as a “decoy” … that he might think he is only receiving a card for Valentine’s. He receives it on Monday and thanks me. I fret about sending them sometimes …. having sent several through the months. Is it too much? I remember his words, “Be Yourself.” I should make that my mantra.
Tuesday morn, I ask him to check under the bathroom sink for something I pretend to have forgotten. He falls for my ploy. I have planted a gift for him there, just as I did one for Jet.
He finds that there is a present and a box of chocolates there. I am ecstatic that I have surprised him completely. And he loves my gift. I have chosen a set of Life is Good lounge pants in wonderfully earthy colors and a shirt to go with them. I know … I’m dreadfully practical. But, Stone is as well … and he loves the present.
As he pulls the boxes from under the counter, he begins. “Karen, you shouldn’t have … now I feel guilty.” There is this deluge of … scolding. I knew it would come. I let him finish and matter-of-factly retort:
“Look! There are three things that can happen here. I can stop giving you gifts … which means stop being myself. Or I can give them and you can get over the guilt and accept them as they are offered – as gifts. Or you can pony up.”
And to be honest, there is no need to “pony up.” No extravagant gift could compare to the card that he sent. It is the first card he has given me. It is the first time he has written my name.
The written word means so much to me. When we were shopping one afternoon months ago, he held the grocery list. I asked, “Please write down garlic before I forget.” He scribbled “I love you” on the bottom of the list. I kept his note on the remnant of the grocery list. It remains on my refrigerator beside other important things like Nina’s Save-the-Date magnet and verses of scripture.
I watched him pick out a card for his mother’s birthday. I know this card he gifted me was not the first that he pulled from the rack. I read and see certain words underlined. It is like the cards that my father chooses … carefully, intentionally, purposefully chosen for its words. This card … is a treasure. Outlined in a black crushed velvet, it speaks to my heart and makes me smile inside.
I think of this man … coursing with testosterone … highly competitive with a heart to “win.” Can I train him to relax? Can I successfully show him that I don’t require lavish gifts, big trips and lots of hoopla? Love might be messy … but it can also be easy. Women shouldn’t be work. We are meant to be … designed to be h.e.l.p.e.r.s … not WORK. Can I teach him that a small gift …. a card …. the written word … or even rocks (like my won.der.ful Christmas present) are HUGE to me?
With my switching from Christmas to Valentine’s decor, I exchanged my snowflake painting to one I painted about l♥ve.
I love the phrase at the bottom. It’s true, isn’t it?
There is no.such.thing as “wasted” love.
Love unreturned is not wasted.
nor is rejected love squandered.
As a lover of God, I must believe that all love offered
is an investment
and it will not go unnoticed by the heart
or undetected by the spirit.
Just because the one intended to receive the bestowal
does not know HOW to receive it
does not mean that it is misspent.
Loving others looks different from person to person ..
but we all need love.
I want to encourage you to continue to love that prickly person …
the one that rejects you …
the one who doesn’t know how to receive what you offer.
Give graciously, abundantly and without expectation
of thanks …. or even acknowledgement.
Give to the teacher who doesn’t seem to like you,
the spouse who rejects you,
the friend who has turned on you.
Love the neighbor who is brambly,
the child who has gone wayward
or the cashier who has obviously had a long day.
Give and love with no expectation in return …
There is no such thing as wasted love.