Love…

Today’s post is by my friend and regular contributor Debra Dickey. 

Love.   An oddly challenging concept for me to write about — definitions and dimensions; cursive and variegated; richly prismatic, yet often elusive.  I understand love, I know what love is all about, and I am quite unselfish when sharing love. Fluid in sentiment and arbitrary in measurement, still, love can certainly be experienced in a variety of shapes, forms, sizes, depths, and degrees.

My growing-up years were more about ‘food, clothing, and shelter’ kinds of love — making sure we were safe, that we were doing what we were supposed to, and that we, in return, exhibited the appropriate respect and appreciation for others.  I never felt “unloved”, but neither were there open displays of affection in our home, hugs and personal interactions, those sorts of things, but there was always care.  And I knew that to be true.  Shading.

When I had children of my own, I quickly learned a different universe of love that I chose to expand and build on and never let go of.  So, I created the unconditional relationship of pure love with my children that I wanted them to know, and that I so desired as the parent of two wonderful people.  They got it, and by knowing their kind and thoughtful reciprocations, there is joy.   Resounding love.

I’ve also experienced something that was supposed to be love, but was not, from one who should have been my biggest supporter, but had not the emotional capability to honor that role, toward hollowness.  Arduous love.

And every day, I am mindful of the people around me who love me, and I do know who they are.  It is ever amazing to be a part of who they are, and celebrate with revelry in what they are to me — real and genuine and without ulterior motive.  I love them back! Gregarious love.

Despite not always knowing how it will turn out, I have loved, and will, love fluently with all my whole heart and every ounce of my being, many, many times, and I would not trade one of those moments for anything the world has to offer.  If we are fortunate, the very best that we can hope for is to be the admirable recipient of undiluted, unadulterated, beautiful love at its noblest – by whichever description it is that we choose to identify its meaningfulness.

In bunches, on its own, soaring, or in a whisper…. Love is what it is.  Exotic or common, crusty or smooth around the edges.  Not always where you look, but occasionally found in unexpected places.  Sometimes it’s grand, sometimes it’s dumb, sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s easy, and more often than not, it is rare.

goldgiftWe were created in love, to love, and to be loved.  Of all the things that love is, no matter what else, Love is truly a Gift.

Dear Sabrina

*Today’s letter is written by one of my former spunky students. Thank you for adding spark to my life, Jessica!*

Dear Sabrina,

I have had five therapists in my lifetime from 2nd grade on. None of these people could get through to me until the 5th one. The 5th one was you. Something about you stuck out to me. Maybe it was because of your willingness to listen or your genuine want to help me and reach out. Honestly, I don’t know what it was, but what I do know is that I have not needed a therapist since December 2013, and I owe that all to you. Actually, no, I owe my whole life to you.

When I met you, I was in a bad place in my life. The therapist I went to a couple of months before basically blew me off and made me feel like I didn’t matter. She shooed me out of my second (and last) appointment that SHE scheduled and was LATE to because she had a meeting. Part of the reason I was going to a therapist in the first place was because I felt that nobody cared about me or what I was going through. I was lost and looking for some kind of direction in my life. That little incident pretty much proved me right. Not even my therapist cared about my life or whether I’d pull through or not. She only cared about herself.

After that, I kind of decided that maybe therapy wasn’t for me; after all, I’d had four different ones in my past, and none made me feel any better about myself or my future. Finally, I got to a point in my life where I REALLY needed someone to talk to. I felt I couldn’t talk to my family members because they wouldn’t understand. I talked to my best friend a lot, but she was getting tired of being the one to be unloaded on. Plus, in the relationship I was in, I was told to drop my best friend if I wanted to be with him. So, basically, I had no one. No friends, family, anyone.

You quickly became my friend as time progressed, though you could not be my “friend” because of your contract, but I knew otherwise. I always felt like you took a little more care with me than you did with your other clients. You can’t deny it. We spent three years together. You watched me grow as a person and saw me at my worst and still cared about me and my well being. I truly believe it was God that led me to you. He saw me struggling and knew just who could help me.

Ornament01You are an amazing therapist, and I would recommend you to anyone. You were the reason that I decided to become a therapist myself. I realized that I wanted to help people become all that they can be. Nobody should have to go through depression alone. All of that being said, I just wanted to let you know that I am so unbelievably grateful and thankful for you and your help. Without your selfless guidance, I would have never been able to pull myself out of the dirt and get back to the person I used to be, well, close to who I used to be. I love you more than you know, and I will never forget you.

Your Friend,

Jessica Nicol

P.S. When you look at Eeyore on your bookshelf, know that I’m thinking about you, too.

Day 20: Dear Grandma

*Today, we have the pleasure of reading a post from fellow blogger Mark Luker. Be sure to check out Mark’s blog!*

Grandma,

Mark Luker grandmaThis is a letter I should have sent you a long, long, time ago, and even though you can no longer remember your life, or who I am, and you can’t even read anymore, I still feel a need to write it because I want to thank you. But in saying thanks to you, I will also be thanking God for your presence in our lives. I want to say thank you for being in my life, for taking care of us kids when our mother couldn’t. I thank you for being willing to be my father and mother – it must have been so hard to do, and I know I didn’t make it easy for you either.

I thank you for always managing to provide wonderful food on the table and for patching up my jeans and making those hand me down clothes somehow fit and look nice. I was too young to notice that you really didn’t have the means to feed us – and I was really too young to see how you trusted God to provide! But I guess I learned how to trust God from your example even though I didn’t know it.

I want to thank you for sacrificing your life, your wants and needs, at a time when you should have been retired and enjoying us like “normal” grandmothers would – from a distance. I am so thankful you never let there be a distance between you and us kids. I need to thank you for each instance when you gave away your own life so that you could care for ours. I need to thank you for not only caring for our physical needs, but also for keeping us focused on God.

You tried so hard to protect us from this world and I was so selfish; I thought you were just being mean. I’m sorry that when it came time for going to church, I was more like Tom Sawyer and gave you so much grief. I am so sorry I forced you to use that willow switch on me, because I know now that it really did hurt you more than it hurt me. But I am so thankful you never gave up on me! I apologize for not taking church seriously at a time when you were trying to keep me before God. I wish you could know how important God is to me now and how he has redeemed me.

I thank you for literally saving my life when I was so close to death- oh I know that you have always said it was God who saved me – and I agree – except now I know that God chose you as an instrument to keep me in this world, and I am so thankful that you answered his call. I remember all those times when I tried to sneak out the front door with nothing but my t-shirt on, with sleeves rolled up like the “cool” kids. I could never quite get past your door, could I?

Looking back, I remember how you would say that you wanted me to remember that God saw me before anyone in the world did, and that was all that mattered. I want to thank you for teaching me things that I ended up using in raising my own daughter – except I haven’t been as good at it as you were. I wish you could see her today, Grandma – using the very same things you taught me as she serves God herself. I see a lot of you and hear you speaking to me at church when I see her.

I thank you, Grandma, for showing us what serving God really means. I want you to know that all those times of struggling were not in vain. I need you to know that you can rest now from all the time you’ve spent in this world. Please know that you have served us well; now it’s time for you to have peace and look forward to going home. I know God is going to reward you in heaven for all the great work you have done on earth!

I love you.

Day 5: Dear Doctor

*Thanks to my friend Henry Petty for serving as Day 5’s writer during my Dear Gratitude project!*

404838_10200636179807744_1229644121_nSome will write letters about being thankful for parents, loved ones, moms, dads, clergy, what have you.  My letter of thanks is not to those types of people; this is a letter of thanks to the healthcare providers in my life.

These people don’t even require my thanks.  They have told me this point blank, and when I try thanking them for what they do, they tell me, “I don’t require any ‘thanks’– it’s my job.”  Outside of paying my co-payment/co-insurance/deductible, it just doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  And with the contracted rates they have with insurance companies, it DEFINITELY isn’t enough for what they do, and especially what they have done for me.

I have regular visits to my nurse practitioner, and through the years we have really grown closer.  I would even venture to call her a friend.  I’ve gone in with a bad knee after a run, and we will get to talking about how my financial portfolio is looking (she recently graduated from the Dave Ramsey financial classes), or how I’m managing stress at work.  We hug, and they’re the best hugs.  This is why I want to enter the field as a nurse practitioner or physicians’ assistant because they are more in tune with a patient’s long-term care than a regular M.D. who visits them for a few minutes then moves on to the next patient.

A sleep study doctor went over my sleep study results, and then he launched into a monologue about Zig Ziglar and how he teaches about looking at oneself in the mirror while repeating incantations to boost self-esteem–certainly nothing he learned in Medical School.  However, he still was compelled to teach me this.

My regular nurse practitioner has guided me through some tough times in my life. We have laughed and shed tears together. She has given me tough love tips, and she has guided me in a way that has helped me grow stronger internally and become a more confident man.  All the while, she has also managed my blood pressure down to a manageable number.

I recall a time I had come in for some lower back pain, and she told me the way I had been speaking it felt like chewing on tin foil, at how tensed up I was, and asked me what was wrong.  This wasn’t part of her “patient checkup.” This was something she noticed on the metaphysical side.  We talked for the next 30 minutes about life’s issues, and I worked through it.  And I got an Rx for ibuprofen for my back.

I am thankful to her for empowering me to be a better man.  I’m also thankful to have the means in order to seek care and take better care of myself, something I did not have the luxury or access to in my 20’s.

These people in the medical field are those we get to know through our lives.  Maybe it’s short-term, long enough to take care of that nagging cold, or maybe it’s long-term care.  But they are there for us, and I am truly grateful for their service.  These people really DO care for us in a much deeper way than an x-ray or lab work.  Believe that.