Sunday, February 10, 2013

No One Loves Me



I think there are many people in this world, when they take the time to think about it, feel that no one loves them.  They have internet “friends” and probably many people they socialize with in real life, but they don’t feel “special” to anyone.  Perhaps even their spouse.  There is no one person who they feel truly loves them --- and thinks they are so special.  It’s a lonely feeling.  Maybe that’s why so many people lead such frantic lives, always busy --- so they don’t have to stop and think, about what they feel.  But perhaps it is even sadder when you do stop and think, and consider that you are living your life as best can, even spiritually, and yet you still feel unloved.  It’s like you are doing something wrong, but you don’t know what. 
And you’d like to start doing things right.
I know that feeling.
For me, that was the start of my conversion story, but that’s not the story which needs to be told here.  Here I’d like to talk about that “feeling” that no one loves you.  And I’d ask you to consider that perhaps it is just that, a feeling, not a reality.  Reality is much deeper than just feelings, and although reality is all around us, somehow we are often blind, and do not see.
A while back I was visiting a friend at her home.  A few days earlier I had given her the pile of Christmas cards and small gifts which had been laying on my living room coffee table for weeks; I thought these little things would be uplifting to her, for she continues to suffer from a lingering illness.  When I visited that subsequent day, she commented to me on how good it was to read the cards and notes, especially those from common friends. 
But then she said:  “You are very much loved.”
I casually brushed her words aside.  How could I who spend most of my waking hours caring for an elderly parent be “very much loved?”  As the years continue on in my boring life, close friendships, former co-workers, and the feeling of being wanted and needed, have all drifted away. 
Very much loved?  No one knows me.  How can anyone love a stranger?  And how can I, a stranger feel loved?  Caring for an elderly mother who can’t walk or hear and who doesn’t know me much of the time, how can I be “very” anything, except alone?
But having quiet time and being alone are two different things, one is a blessing few people have: time to reflect and pray.  And the other seems a bad thing, but often it is just a bad feeling, not reality.
This is the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church.  We are to grow in our knowledge of our faith, since we don’t study and ponder it nearly enough, and even when we do we don’t really apply it correctly.  In the parable of the Vine and the branches, we are the branches attached to Jesus and His Church and gaining nourishment from Him.  I fear, however, many of us can’t conceive of that.  We don’t see ourselves as growing vines, but rather as barren, dry, cracked-earth fields.  Empty.  Alone.  Unloved. 
We pity ourselves.  And we brush aside the truth which doesn’t fit our pre-conceived notions, even as I brushed aside my friend’s comment:  “You are very much loved.”
Why is that?  Why can’t we see or accept the reality that WE ARE loved?  Or is it that we need to be in control of everything:  “If I were truly loved, here is how people would be treating me.”  Do we feel we must define how they FREELY love us --- “freely” love us?  Why can’t we see the reality, that we are blessed, that we are loved?
I think the “unloved” feelings of many people parallel the feelings of “poor” people in our country.  If you ask someone: “Are you poor,” many people will say yes.  If you ask them: “Are you wearing clothes?”  They’ll say yes.  If you ask them: “Did you eat today?”  They’ll say yes.  If you ask them: “Did you have a mother and father?”  They’ll say yes.  If you ask them: “Did you EVER receive a gift from someone?”  They’ll say yes.
You could ask them many more questions, about the television they have, the car, the home, their children.  Most who are “poor” would say yes to having all these things.  The REAL question, however, (and which they would not know how to answer) is: “Don’t you realize how rich you are?”  As my friend demonstrated to me when she read the cards and notes I had received at Christmas, it was obvious to see how loved I am.  The one who couldn’t see that was me, because I had my own definition of love and I wished that definition upon others.  But others had their own definitions of love, of love for me.  And I was blind to what they offered.
So, what are you to do?  Look for your old Christmas cards?  No, I don’t think so.  But you should look at my tale here and see the whole story.  For the story of understanding how I am loved started with God.  He blessed me with His love, and many people who entered my life.  And then I sent out Christmas cards to those friends, and even some to people who I haven’t seen in many years.  But the cards I sent out were cards to special people (even if they didn’t feel special); they were people I remember, people who were special in my life.  Perhaps only for a year or two, perhaps even for only months, yet I could tell you stories about them and our times together --- and how I treasured them.  I send them cards at Christmas because it is a special time, a time to remember love.  Perhaps next year instead of the short note or Christmas letter saying how things have gone with my mom this past year, instead I’ll tell them why I remember them.  And that they are important.  And that they are loved. 
If you want to be loved, you must give love.  God kicks it off; He loves all his children --- even you --- people enter our lives and make a difference, and then we pass it on.  It’s the two big commandments, love God and love neighbor.  And love comes back to you.  If only you would let yourself be loved, in the way people want to love you, or remember you.  You are very much loved, you just don’t know it.
It all starts with God’s giving love, and then our choice to give love.  And accept love.

Here Is My Life
Behold the eyes of the Lord
Search the face of the earth
To find hearts that are given,
Seeking souls to make pure.
To inflame the world’s darkness,
To warm cold hearts with Grace.
Am I here, Lord, for such a time, for such a place?
Here is my life, Lord, heart, mind and body,
My soul’s surrender, take it for Your own.
And you will lead where I know, where only love can go,
Here is my life, O Lord, my life for You.
There is a love, stronger than death,
Passion deeper than life,
In the hearts purest longing,
Lies the pearl of great price.
One Love, all loves surpassing,
True surrender the cost.
Am I here, Lord, to bear this love and share its cross?
Here is my life, Lord, heart, mind and body,
My soul’s surrender, take it for Your own.
And you will lead where I know, where only love can go,
Here is my life, O Lord, my life for You.
© 2004 – The Servants of the Word, Ann Arbor, MI

11 comments:

  1. I think this is a truly wonderful post. How loved we are, by God! And I was left ready to write out Christmas cards, as I thought of the people who have been special in my life "for a year or two, perhaps even for only months, yet I could tell you stories about them and our times together..." I love the idea of telling card-recipients they're special to me. I usually don't send out Easter cards, but I just might do so this year :)!

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  2. I titled this post deliberately somewhat false, from my point of view. I know I am loved, but I also know based on search-engine results which highlight this blog that there are many people in the entire world focused on depressing thoughts --- "I Hate My Father" is my most read post. So I'm sure there will be many future hits by people putting in "No One Loves Me" in the future. And I hope they read these words and realize how easily they are omitting the good things in their lives, the love they do receive ---- even if only from God. And how important it is for them to tell others that they are important, that they are loved.

    Our pope announced his retirement today. I heard many commentaries, but none mentioned WHY he chose today. Totus Tuus, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes --- it was not a coincidence I'm sure. And he knows he is loved, I am also sure.

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  3. Such a powerful post. Thank you. I am very fortunate to feel loved and to feel "rich." I agree that feelings are to the ultimate "reality." Sometimes very far from reality in fact. We need to remember, when we are in the dark, what we have seen in the light--and vice versa. St. John of the Cross. I try to keep this in mind when I am feeling low and unloved. I have a blog of my own and would be grateful if yu took a minute to have a look. http://onjacobsladder.blogspot.com/

    God bless.

    John

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  4. Tom, this is so loving and kind-hearted. Recently I was speaking with a priest who said it doesn't matter if someone is a seminarian, a priest or the president of an organization. That's all exterior. The only thing that really matters, he said, is who we are in our deepest identity. He said he wishes he had a way of convincing everyone that the only thing that matters is knowing that we are all the beloved children of God.

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  5. John, sorry I haven't gotten back to you. It's been a very busy and stressful couple of weeks for me. Lots of thoughts to post here, but little time to post them. I glanced at your blog, and will offer you some comments there. It's a good step you are taking, a cover-to-cover reading of the bible. I think my spiritual journey began in a similar way --- and God began to speak to me.

    Anne, it sounds like that priest is a very wise man. Mom's back in the in-home hospice program; she sleeps much and eats little, typical signs of the end nearing. It would be nice if she were around for her 95th in April and her grandkids visit again. But that is up to God and His mercy. I've read so many good books lately, and seen so many good videos; I'd like to comment here on them all. It seems like God is speaking to me in almost everything I read these days; that's good, I need His presence. I guess He knows that, too.

    Lent is a time of fasting and alms, but it's a time to remember Love also. I hope you have much in your life.

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  6. In my case the topic is true. Today is my bday, its also the anniversary of my other half kidnapping my son and taking him overseas, my mother helped her with that. My mother had the audacity today to send me a bday message on facebook. She said a couple of years ago she never loved me from birth, thanks mum, it makes a lot of things she did to me when I was a kid so much clearer. I never knew my father, he just ran away when I was born and the guy she married has detested me since they married when I was five. My current partner hasnt even said happy bday to me (and its 10:40pm now, it doesnt look likely) just like last year and I'm now wondering if the $500 diamond necklace I had in mind for her bday in a couple of months is really worth it. Ive never been cheap with treating girlfriends to gifts, but I thought I might get a happy bday, clearly it doesnt mean much. I spent probably around $150 over the last two mothers days for her on behalf of my son with her but I'm not really recognised on fathers day. Its not about the money, it just demonstrates that I value her, I dont expect anything really, just a coffee maybe and a happybday/fathers day. Is that so much to ask? If she loved me I feel she would at least acknowledge these occasions and obviously its a simple act of reciprocity given that I try to show I value her and that her bday and mothers day mean something to me because I love her. I now wonder if this is my lot in life to be stoic in the face of such denial of my personhood by her. Will my sons ever appreciate me enough to wish me well on these days? Their mothers wont encourage it. No, I'm not loved but I simply hope someday my sons will show me some kindness, but its not up to them to prove I am worth something to someone, I am the adult. Unless their mothers remind them of these occasions, providing their mothers remember, I wont be. What kind of hollow accomplishment that would be, its tantamount to begging for recognition. You dont know me, dont even contemplate wishing me happy bday after you read this in 6 months, it really will mean nothing, or it might, I dont know. But no, not everyone is loved, and it breeds low confidence and diminishes your own worth and how you are valued. I dont crave love or expect it, but I thought I might be worthy of a little bit in light of how I try to make her feel valued everyday. This is anonymous so I still wait in the shadows hoping a birthday candle might give me a glimmer of hope.

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  7. Dear Anonymous:

    Happy (belated) birthday! Sorry this is past midnight your time; it is past noon mine. I'm sad that you feel so low, so unloved (note that I said "feel", not "are"). These things I write on this blog and not trivial matters, and I write them after much thought and reading, and prayer. I don't say them lightly. You and I seem to look at this world differently, even when looking at the same facts. Even knowing what you have written, I would say to you that "you ARE loved", even as you say "not everyone is loved." I would say that everyone "wants to be loved," even as you say "I don't crave love." And I conclude my thoughts by saying: "if you want to be loved, you must give love."

    My thoughts on love are underpinned by the words of Jesus Christ, who said our purpose, why we exist, is to know and love God, and our neighbor --- not to love ourselves. It's analogous to winning the lottery: "Why don't I ever win the lottery," some people may ask. The answer is: "Well, you've got to play first." Love is that way, the way we were created.

    I once wrote here about love, and how it is learned. I gave the example of a mother loving her child. As a baby, it wants that love, it craves it. But if it is raised properly, in later years it sees that same affection and learns a bigger lesson: I want to love like that. That is the lesson parents are meant to convey to their children; the parents give love not expecting anything in return --- but strictly because they value the life that God gave them to care for, a blessing.

    Perhaps, Anonymous, you were not taught that lesson well in your youth. Perhaps like so many people these days, you learned that looking out for yourself was most important. But it is never too late to learn how to love, to really love. It's not all about sex, as the movies or internet would have you believe, that getting that stuff or sensations we want. No, love is about giving of ourselves to another, showing them that we think they are special. We are human beings; every life is special. In part I believe that is true because God said so, but in part I know in my very being that is true. I am special, even as you are. I want to be loved, even as you do. But I (and you) need to not focus on that craving, but instead focus on giving love, to all those we meet, including your partner and your sons --- even if that love is not returned. Don't put dollars and cents on its value; it's value is you. You have something to give this world and the people in it: love. Even if you are alone, you make a difference in this world.

    My mother died last month; I have no partner, no children, no siblings. In many ways I am alone, but I have learned how to love. Right now I am in the process of giving away the furnishings of the home I rented for mom; many people have cried in thanks for the blessing of receiving these things they so basically need. Mom is dead, but she is making a difference in this world. People will remember her, through me, because she loved, and then I loved.

    And people will remember you, too. Do not be anxious.

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  8. Thank you so much for this post. I will first have to say though, that I'm not Catholic. But your post hit the nail right on the head. As humans we define our sense of love based on this world, rather than what the Word of God tells us. God tells us we are loved. The question is why is that not enough for us? We are looking in all the wrong places. Thank you so much for this today. God bless you. I totally needed this and I'm sure that there a ton of others out there who do too. :0)

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  9. I'm glad these words spoke to you. As I've commented to many others who found something good here: "If you found some peace from these words here, no need to thank me. They probably really weren't my words; I'm just the messenger."

    Laura, if you glance at this blog's header, you'll see that I don't consider this a "Catholic blog." This is just what it says it is. My Catholic faith gives me comfort and solace, and sometimes I reference why here in this blog, but it is not the focus of the blog. You're welcome here anytime.

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  10. Thank you. I am working on not feeling sorry for myself. The reality is that God does Love me. Even with that knowledge I yearn for and crave connected-ness with another person. I would like to think that I am worthy of someones Love. Someday.

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    1. Zachary, last year I wrote a posting here titled: You Are In A Dark Place. Perhaps you might use the search engine on this blog to find and read that one also.

      I've been listening to a CD this past week while driving. Titled "Just Him," by Brian Blum, it has many songs which resonate with me. One is titled: Your Are Loved (Don't Give Up). And the next is titled: Trust Him. I pray that those words can enter your heart. You are indeed worthy of love, even today. Not to make you into too much (or too little), but everyone is worthy of love. The Gospel I heard at mass this morning was about Jesus calling out to Zacheus, the sinful tax collector. Jesus wanted to sup with him, now. If we wait until we get our house in order before we look for Jesus, we'll never look. And we'll never see that He is, even now, looking for us, and waiting for us. I know we all want to BE loved, but notice that is not why we were made. What are the commandments for us to DO with our existence? To love God, and to love neighbor. To give love, is the commandment, not to greedily want it.

      And, as I so often found, when I gave it was when I most received it back.

      God bless you, my friend.

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