Everyone has an inherent desire for love and acceptance just because they exist. When there has been abuse in someone’s life, this desire becomes somewhat exaggerated or very deep seeded. For someone to actually be happy to see them and delight in time together is more than can be expected. After all, they have been told repeatedly that they are worthless, ugly, can do nothing right and so many other terrible statements about why they don’t deserve anything good in their lives.
I have wanted to be loved and accepted throughout my life. Even when I had it, I couldn’t fully trust it or I didn’t recognize it. I always felt I wasn’t someone anyone could love. I have friends that I know love me and I love to spend time and walk through life with them. I have only recently begun to truly accept their love and stop questioning why they would love me. I have built a very thick wall of protection around myself, but I can remember very clearly when that wall had its first crumble.
The Day I Felt Love and Acceptance
The day this happened was when I first met the grandfather of the one I loved. When I walked into his and his amazing wife’s home, I felt an instant acceptance. I knew within a few minutes that he liked me and I felt completely comfortable. It was like this every time we visited. We laughed, talked and he showed me his trick puzzles and performed with his monkey puppet, BB (which stood for Banana Brain).
I will always remember the one time he and his wife were in Indianapolis staying with their son and we saw them at church. With their children and their spouses and grandchildren surrounding them, I walked up. Grandad smiled and came up to me to give me a kiss on the cheek and a hug. One of the spouses exclaimed that they couldn’t believe that his family surrounded him but while he waited for everyone else to come up to him he approached me when I walked toward him. That touched my heart so deeply. I still remember how I felt that day. My heart was so full.
Please understand that I am in no way saying that I was loved or deemed more special than anyone else in his family. What I am saying is that it was a time that spoke into my life profoundly. In the love and acceptance of this one man, I could no longer say with complete conviction that I was unlovable.
Why People Criticize
It has taken me a long time to start to come to terms with all that has been said to me through my life, but I am beginning to realize that most of what these people said about me to knock me down was about them and not me. According to Dr. Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt in their book A Wounded Woman, someone usually criticizes for one of four reasons:
- To show disapproval: We don’t like something or it doesn’t seem fair, so we want the world to know our opinion.
- To place blame: We don’t want anybody to be angry at us or think less of us, so we blame someone else.
- To feel better: We feel inferior or insecure, so we find fault with others so we don’t look as bad.
- To gain power: We feel powerless or out of control, so we try to appear as if we know more or are superior.
Some of these reasons really confuse me. I don’t understand how making someone else feel inferior or less than can make someone feel better about themselves. Everyone knows how it feels to be hurt by someone else. It is awful. So, why would a person willingly hurt someone in an attempt to make him or her feel better? It makes no sense.
But the positive in this is that we don’t have to understand the whys of what another person does. It is so hard to come to terms with the fact that you probably won’t ever understand why your abuser(s) has done what they have done to you. Some things can never be explained, but your life can move forward despite not having all the answers.
Love and acceptance can be experienced in every person’s life. I was fortunate that I always knew God loved me and what He said about me went totally against what the abusive people in my life said. His words are truth, His love is pure and He wants everyone to know freedom through Him. I know this is enough and more than I could ever ask for, but, at times, there is still the desire to have another person open their arms and show a similar love to me with a hug and words of a friend.
I’d love to hear about a time when someone’s love and acceptance of you made an impression on your life.
~ Joanna Lynn