Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 42

It's amazing how God is using my young children to minister His truths to me. My 4 year old Raina has had a limited vocabulary due to speech issues related to Pervasive Development. Since June her speech has literally exploded and she went from simple 2 and 3 word phrases to being able to look at us (for the most part) and hold conversations with us. It's been amazing to watch her blossom.

Today we were leaving school and I can't remember what brought this up, but she told me she liked me. I said I like you too baby but to be honest I didn't really think much past that moment. Tonight at bedtime she was having a huge meltdown. She was very tired and had been moody all day. So I was in the bedroom with her, cuddling and loving on her and I said, "Night Night Honey". She grabbed hold of me and said, "But I like you mommy, don't go." My heart melted and I said, "I like you too Raina," and of course I stayed with her.

Since she's been asleep that phrase has been turning over in my head constantly. I like you mommy! How adorable. But how uncommon for a 4 year old to say. I remember longing to hear her say I love you. I seemed like it took forever for her to even sign the words but she did and then started saying I love you in early Spring. She's very affection with me and says it countless times. I love hearing those sweet words and I am quick to respond and offer the words before she tells me. The I like you is new. And I wonder if she knows there is a difference?

One of the Greek words for love is phileo and means brotherly love. To me this implies something different than the agape love - the God kind of love. Phileo love implies affection and attachment - liking someone. We are commanded to love people as we love ourselves. To love and see people the way God sees them. I am told to agape love my enemies. But even though I love my enemies and turn the other cheek - I usually do not have a relationship with them. When I think of cultivating relationships - I think of phileo love.

I think the epiphany is I want to be likable. And in that moment when she said, "I like you mommy," I felt validated as a mommy and as a person. I think a part of my troubled past is that I was a people-people, often willing to do whatever necessary to ensure love. Yet it so often back fired on me that I turned the opposite direction. I think I thought it didn't matter if I was liked. That perhaps it was a vain desire to want to be likable.

I know there is a fine line wanting to be likable and needing to be likable and becoming a people-pleaser. But I have to admit it. I want to be liked. I definitely want to be loved by my husband and children and family and friends. But being liked seems so much more intimate. Love at times is dutiful especially when, for example, we are acting in obedience and loving our enemy. Liking someone feels natural. You either do or don't. Being liked seems to say that people see the "real" me.

I want relationships like John and Jesus, Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David. They had close-knit relationships that spoke more of phileo love. Agape love is naturally a part of that, because how can we truly love outside of God. But phileo love adds an entirely different dimension to a relationship.

Wanting to be liked means I want to find favor with God and with mankind. I want God's love but I want Him to like me as well. I want that deep abiding relationship with God that certainly speaks of lordship, but I want it to encompass something more. Something deeper. He will be Lord of my life. But if that relationship transcends into everything I need - friendship is a part of that. Thus likability is a part of that.

In the past few months, God has put several women in my life that I am trying to build relationships with. At times I still feel fairly unlikable. Yet I am starved for deep relationships. But rather than being unlikable I wonder if it's because I seem unreachable. I do tend to put up walls and not let people in. What irony. But I am working on tearing the walls down and developing those relationships.

I pray that I am not seen as a people-pleaser. I think they must end up with superficial relationships. When you are a people-pleaser there is no depth to your relationships because people don't know who you really are. And if they don't know who you are - how can phileo love develop?

I want to be seen as kind-hearted and compassionate as well as sincere and trustworthy. That's where the phileo love comes in. It digs beneath the surface of our hearts and shows who we really are. God commands me to love (agape). But I think phileo love stands together with agape love and together they enable me to develop that likability that will in turn help me develop the close relationships I need in my life.

Today's Reflection: Lord I pray kindness and truth never leave me. That I will bind them around my neck and write them on the tablet of my heart. Only then will I find favor with you and mankind. (Proverbs 3:3-4). I pray that people will see You in me. I want to have close friends that I can be completely me with. Sisters in Christ that I can laugh with...cry with. That we can "do life" together. I pray that You give me the strength to reach out to people in faith, tearing the walls in my life down.

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