Yeah, it has been a bit of a while since I last wrote a post on either of my blogs. On one hand, I am actively changing the format of these blogs, especially of Tosin’s Bible Blog. However, regarding “Huggie-Wuggie”, the truth is that I have let my busy-ness overwhelm me. I had so many things that I wanted to write about, (so many things!) but I have now largely forgotten many of the ideas, and now have to go searching deep in my mind to remember just what it was that occurred to me! Thankfully I do remember a couple of the ideas! (I say a couple of ideas, but as I type this the second idea is also stubbornly hiding from me! Let’s see whether it will come back to me as I am writing!)
Caring about someone: Well this is the one idea that I definitely do have a grasp on.
There is one big reason why I never talk about the place of caring for one another in a relationship, and that is because I don’t understand it! When I say “caring”, I don’t mean taking care of one another, but rather in the other sense. I can see that this will probably get complicated – I wonder whether there is another word that I could use?! Let me see whether I can explain what I mean by giving some examples.
I have actually written a post about this subject before, available here, and this particular new post that I am writing here builds on those ideas somewhat.
It has happened to me before sometimes in my life that someone will do something to me, that is, act in an unpleasant or negative way, and I will instantly, unceremoniously ditch them. But then some other people will similarly act in negative ways, and I will keep holding on to the friendship. In some cases, I might actually go ahead to end the interaction between us, but I will still keep thinking about the person, or wishing the best for them. It recently occurred to me that this is what caring for someone is actually all about.
This is what I have recently come to realise/discover/believe. I believe that this is essentially true for anything or anyone that we care about or admire. When you sincerely care for someone, it is an expression of finding value in who they are, or their character. What/who we care about shows us what we truly value.
So then some people might act badly towards me, but I continue to care about them because they have demonstrated traits which I deeply value, (whether I know it or not, whether or not I can articulate this to myself), and which I have found to be rare. But then other people might act badly, and I will unceremoniously release them from my life, because unconsciously I have not found anything in them which makes them inherently valuable or precious to me (over and above the fact that they are human beings – which is in and of itself not particularly rare!)
So this is how this is relevant to romantic relationships. Some of these people that I have ditched altogether from my life have been men that I considered romantically. Looking back, I ask myself: “Why did I even consider them in that way, if I thought so little of them that I could just easily cut them out of my life altogether, just like that?” This answer is this: all this might seem breathtakingly obvious to other people, but up until now I have never grasped this; that is, I have never understood how appreciating true value in someone leads to sincere unconditional care for them, which is essential for any romantic relationship; I’ve never understood that I need to take time to get to know someone to see whether I truly do value what they are. But then again, I suspect that not everyone knows this after all; I suspect that this is why so many marriages flounder, and why so many of us struggle with the concept of unconditional love. So when someone represents true value to me, then I can sincerely care, then I have more motivation to persevere through difficulties; I can commit to loving them unconditionally, because I know that the character that they cultivate within them, is inherently precious. It is like when you are looking at a beautiful painting. When you first see it face to face, you see how beautiful it is. Even when the painting is covered by many layers of cloth, you know that that beautiful and precious artwork is still there, waiting to be uncovered, even if you cannot physically see its beauty right at that moment.
This is a bit of a tricky post, and I am struggling to adequately express all that I want to say. So I am going to keep typing and hope that the desired points that I want to make will flow out.
As I type this, it occurs to me that focusing on care puts the onus on me to care or not care. However I believe that for authentic relationships, the focus has to be on the true inherent value of the person that you are trying to care about.
Caring versus despising
Despising something is the opposite of highly valuing it.
We all have our specific things that we value. This has caused me immense frustration in the past. I will invest things that are very precious to me, for the sake of serving other people, and these precious and expensive investments will be casually trampled over, discarded, treated as rubbish. Ultimately these people did not “care” about me, because what I had, the character traits within me, that I offered so tenderly to them, did not align with their true innate values – no matter what they may actually have said. Many people, even supposed Christians, worship – or highly value – money, or outward signs of success. This is why they will not care about your sacrifice unless it is dripping with gold and diamonds. They will only start to value you if you are seen to be successful. Many of these people, once again so-called Christians, will not care about the inherent value of human life. All the poor people in the world could be wiped off the surface of the earth for all they care – while they chase the latest celebrity pastor. I utterly despise people like this – or consider them worthless, utterly devoid of anything beyond inherent human value – they are still human beings. I should of course not despise anyone. However the sincere truth is that I despise people like this. This is why, when these people show me what is in their hearts, I unceremoniously cut them out of my life. This is something that I have been learning to work on in the last few months. However people like this will never be at the top of my list of people that I admire. The same goes for people who think that I or anyone else could be inherently worth less than they or other people are because of ethnicity or skin colour. Even if people apparently think this, without actually spelling it out, that is enough for me to unceremoniously cut them off.
This is where two years comes in, or truly getting to know someone. The reason why I have previously considered some people romantically, then unceremoniously cut them out from my life is usually because I have initially considered them highly, only for them to go ahead to do something which has caused me to despise them, or to consider their character as worthless. Usually it is not a once-off thing, but it is an ongoing thing; a gradual revelation of unappealing character. Getting to know someone really well will demonstrate whether they truly represent the values that I think that they represent. At first I might think that someone is all shiny and golden. However, as time goes on, it is inevitable that their true values will surface. Giving myself two years to truly get to know someone will help me to find out whether they truly do consistently align with my own true innate values, or whether I will eventually be tempted to cut them from my life as worthless. Or it might not be that they are worthless altogether, perhaps it is merely true that I do not value them as highly as I could, or as highly as I should value someone important to my life.
Thinking I am worthless?
This is an interesting consideration. Obviously in any interaction between two people it works both ways. The question is: “What if there is someone that I value or care about, who considers me as worthless – or who does not value me nearly as highly as I value them?” As I’ve been writing this post, it occurred to me that someone might value me less highly precisely because of the way I easily write off other people. I guess this is the kind of thing that causes real pain in human interactions, when in a relationship or interaction you have differing levels of esteem or respect for one another. To be honest, this is one big reason why I try to make it clear to people that by the grace of God, I am genuinely striving as hard as I can for Christlike character with all the resources that are available to me, my Christian life is a resounding expression of sincerity and I at least am satisfied, if other people choose not to be, that I am giving my thousand percent in being the very best I can be. If still someone persists in not appreciating value in me, if I strongly care about this person, or I strongly care about their opinion, then I hope that I would have the humility to ask them just what it is about me that does not agree with them. I hope that they would answer. However, if not, then I guess that you can only walk away, while possibly praying for them. It is quite thought-provoking to look at it from this perspective, because usually once I cut off people, I never look back. I would rarely respond if anyone were to ask me such a question. I usually think that these people know exactly what it is that they are doing. However, if I can discern true sincerity in the way they ask, then even that would probably cause me to change my mind about them.
So I’ve kinda reached the end of this post, but I am not sure that I have fully articulated what I wanted to say.
Being attracted to someone is not the same as truly knowing what they are about. For me, a big nightmare would be to move forward in a relationship based on attraction or something else, only to later find out that his character is such that I would despise him. For me, I hope that I would never even almost make that mistake again, now that I understand about getting to know someone, and now that I understand how caring for someone truly works. It is not even about the official status of the relationship or interaction between us. Instead of trying to force myself to care about someone because I have married him, it is far more natural for me to find someone whom I genuinely and effortlessly care for, and move forward in that relationship. I will know that I have found such a person because even if the interaction between us does not develop into a relationship or marriage, I will still deeply care about him, and want the best for his life – wonder how he is doing, do my utmost to support him – within prudent boundaries.
Marriage goes beyond care of course, because there are some men whom I do deeply care for, whom I still cannot marry, because I don’t believe that they have the necessary maturity for me to submit to them.
Photo of butterfly by Efraim Stochter on Pixabay