Someone once told me, “I love you, Jaymie. I just don’t always know how.”
I remember reading those words and feeling stunned. That person is no longer in my life… but the words are. Every time I hear about someone not feeling loved by someone who clearly loves them, I think of those words. “I love you. I just don’t always know how.” He was in such a low place in his emotions that I knew he meant it. I knew he was frustrated with himself. It was really how he felt in our friendship.
One could see this as an excuse because it can be meant that way. And he didn’t know how to show me that I was important to him for a mixture of reasons. Part of it was his childhood, part of it was his own struggling, and part of it was that I had a huge crush on him and he had no idea how to navigate that without hurting my feelings. So yes, he didn’t know how.
Beat me into the ground for using a Nicholas Sparks quote (I may have posted this before) but it’s one of my favorite quotations on love.
“But love, I’ve come to understand, is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day.”
Loving people is incredibly different, especially those close to you. I’m a really emotional person so I know it can be scary to get caught up in a friendship with me. My friends are kinda like sails on boats. God is this brisk wind that pushes me and gives me the ability to move. Without him, there would be nothing. And my friends are on deck with me, helping me move the sails to get us in the right direction. It isn’t always the right direction but it’s better than I would do on my own. I really love and appreciate them.
I am not an A+ lover to my friends. I mess up. I love them in the way I would like to be loved which doesn’t always work for them. I get caught up in myself a lot. God brings me back. And at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. That’s what it has to come down to. God loves me. I don’t need to be loved by my friends. It’s incredibly nice. It gives me a sense of satisfaction for sure. But if I have friends who don’t post things on my facebook wall or send me postcards… well, that’s all right. We are all figuring this out together. No one has it down pack.
As a twenty-two year old female at a Christian university surrounded by constant engagements, I think about marriage sometimes. I’m no where near ready for it. Growing up, I was excited by the idea of someone who actually wanted to commit a life with me. That poor sucker has no idea what he’s getting himself into, I (still) think to myself. But now what I’m most excited for is pouring all this love into someone. I realize that I will have days, maybe months or years, that I can’t do that. We all have ups and downs. But God will be there when we can’t love each other as much as we want to that day. I’ll still love my friends and the people around me and my fellow neighbor, whatever that means to future Jaymie, and I’ll get to love a cool guy too. But I have to remind myself that like my friends and like myself, he won’t always know how to love me. This isn’t Parks and Rec and he won’t be Ben Wyatt. This isn’t The Office and he won’t be Jim Halpert. But God will be there just like He is here now.
So for now, it’s the people around me. I’m in a scary place in life but I’m doing all right. I have my weak points but I’m happy. Around me, my friends are extremes. Some are doing the best they ever have been; others are at their lowest point yet. It’s difficult to learn how to love people in their circumstances in the way that best suits them. Everyone is so incredibly difficult. Humans are not easy things to love. Dogs are easier. But humans are the most rewarding. Maybe it’s that free choice aspect of it.
I have been hurt in friendships. I have hurt people in friendships. I have cried and felt incredibly heartbroken that maybe my friends didn’t love me after all. But when it comes down to it, maybe they did. They just didn’t know how to. They just weren’t good at it. Maybe God hasn’t shown them how to do that yet or maybe they just aren’t listening to God. Or maybe that was the best way to love me and I just didn’t want to accept it. It’s weird. It’s messy. It’s complicated. It doesn’t always pay off… in fact, it might not pay off most of the time. But with all my heart, I believe it’s worth it.