Before we were married, Jonathan called me one day at work to say ‘hi.’ I was working as a nurse in a busy labor and delivery unit. That day was especially busy; I don’t think any of the staff had a chance to eat lunch. When Jonathan called I was in the midst of a pile of paperwork following the delivery of a baby. He was across town somewhere; I told him how busy I was and he asked if he could bring me anything. I politely declined stating I didn’t need anything and besides it was too far to come from where he was.
In my head I fantasized how nice it would be to have a Starbucks coffee – full of calories and comfort! Immediately after my hidden daydream he offered to bring me my favorite coffee drink. Yes! That sounded so nice and I really wanted it!
But I said, “Oh, no, that’s ok…I won’t even have time to see you if you come.”
He said that that was fine and he could just drop it off to me.
Again I refused stating how far it was for him to come for such a short visit.
I thought I was being practical.
He continued to offer and during my lengthy decline he interrupted me and said,
“Debra…Will you LET me love you?”
I was stunned. I couldn’t think of anything to say.
Jonathan was trying so hard to do something thoughtful and special for me and I thought I was trying to be considerate of his effort. But really what I was doing was discounting his willingness to serve me and refusing his love.
I didn’t want him to come because it felt selfish and I didn’t want to inconvenience him. I didn’t want him to be generous to me. Even though I really wanted to be pampered, the effort seemed like too much trouble. I was saying, “No that’s fine, I’m ok, I don’t need this, I don’t need your gift, I don’t need you. I’ll do just fine on my own.” Driving across town 45 minutes to bring me a cup of coffee was easy for him. It was something simple he could do that he knew I would enjoy and appreciate and I refused him. I didn’t want to NEED him. I didn’t want to grow to depend on him or his love. I didn’t want…to get hurt.
It was difficult for me to receive because then I felt indebted. Owing someone felt so vulnerable. It seemed easier to depend on myself because then I wouldn’t owe anyone. I’d have only myself to blame when things went wrong and I’d never have to be disappointed when people let me down. In my deceived mind this protected people from my frustration and disappointment and freed them of being responsible for meeting my needs (although secretly I was frustrated and disappointed with them not meeting my needs anyway). Unfortunately this type of thinking inhibits most if not all chances for true intimacy. By not allowing others to help or serve me or simply give unconditionally to me I refuse the love I so desperately desire. Instead of protecting others and myself I end up cutting myself off from the very thing I need.
I was taken aback when Jonathan asked me if I would let him love me. Let him? Until then I hadn’t realized that I was responsible for the love I received.
Left without reason to refuse him I allowed him to bring me the coffee. Later I found out that by allowing him to do small things like that for me made him feel loved because I was receiving the love he was giving me and that by not receiving it he felt deflated, unloved, and rejected.
This event provided a chance for great growth and intimacy between Jonathan and I. We both learned so much. But the chance to grow in intimacy didn’t stop with our relationship because in the same way I was refusing Jonathan I was refusing God.
“Oh God, that’s ok, I’m fine, I don’t need your grace, your love your blessings. I will work and strive and work some more and show you that I can do it all by myself and then you’ll be so proud of me!”
Boy, did I have it ALL WRONG! In fear of rejection, abandonment and disappointment I refused the love, help, and blessings of God.
How easily we refuse His love. It’s not difficult for God to bless us. He wants to. He’s not waiting for us to earn or deserve it. In fact, when we were wretched, doing our own thing without a care in the world for his Love or His plan – He offered His greatest gift to us. If while we were wretched he showered us with love how much more now that we are redeemed? (Romans 5:10) God is extravagant and desires to see us revel in His generosity.
It’s not inconvenient for Him and it’s not too much trouble. He has gone to every effort to extend His love and is practically screaming, “WILL YOU LET ME LOVE YOU?”