"Sometimes he acts like he loves you and sometimes he doesn't!" My daughter said, mirroring my own frustration with her father, my estranged husband.
A red flag went up, activating my mother's intuition and internal warning system. "In what ways does he act loving?" I asked, as questions began to riddle my brain. What impression had I been giving my 11yo daughter about love? What had I been teaching her? Was the behavior she had been witnessing between her father and I, an adequate and accurate description of love?
"Well, he comes and hangs out sometimes, he gives you a hug sometimes and he's nice sometimes..." her voice trailed off.
Is that all she will look for and expect of her own future husband? Is 'being nice sometimes' all it will take to convince her that she is loved? A vision bomb went off and the internal veil of neediness and codependency was lifted. Hopefully, it wasn't too late to be honest with her...and myself.
"Honey, that isn't love, that is just being nice. Lots of people may be nice to you, but that doesn't mean they love you. A mommy and daddy that love each other hold hands, they sit next to each other and snuggle while they watch movies-not on opposite sides of the room. Husbands don't get up and walk away every time their wife tries to sit next to them. And most of all, they don't live in separate homes. Yes, your daddy IS nice to me sometimes, but being nice doesn't equal love...it's just being nice."
I went on to share some of Corinthians definition of love with her.
We must be honest with ourselves here. If we claim God's standard for our lives, this includes being honest, whatever the painful cost. What a disservice we do to our children if we're lowering love to the definition of being nice.
Love is sacrificial. Nice is not. I can't in good conscious, allow my daughter to grow up believing, just because a guy remembers and brings her a favored candy, that it means he LOVES her. Love is faithful. I can't continue to act grateful and praise God that my husband brings me a bag of peanut m&m's while he goes every night to share an apt with someone else. What a gross misrepresentation and abuse of God's love and the standard He set forth in His Word.
Being nice is a common and basic form of human decency. There is nothing special about that. It is the lowest and most base expectation one can have of other humans we share this planet with.
I am keeping my vows, sacrificially, and that is an example of divine love. How dare we equate a move of God with common behavior as 'being nice'. What a devilish deception to embrace such dysfunction and call it a name of God, such as LOVE!
I will praise God for being God. I will pray for strength to continue to really love my husband, as defined in His word. What I won't do and I believe, must repent from, is being dishonest and calling or representing such deplorable behavior, as 'love'. Lying and telling myself, "My husband loves me, see, because he was *nice* to me today." No, that is untruth. All my husband was really doing, was being nice.
Being nice is selfish and has it’s own agenda. Love...divine love, which can only occur if the Spirit of God dwells within you, is selfless and seeks to gain nothing in return. Nothing. Love does not abuse others...or one's self. Let's embrace God's truth...and emotional health...and pray from that place of power...not from our dysfunctional weakness.