I Love You Just the Way You Are
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle”. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.
I love you just the way you are, even if …
You said something to me that was hurtful
You don’t respond to many things just the way I would
You make me feel as if I’m not good enough
You never tell me that you love me,
You never say thank you for the things I do around the house
You have a different opinion on who should be elected our next president
You leave the toilet seat up
You always try to get your own way
You fall short of my expectations
You don’t listen like I need you to
You blurt out to me in anger that you hate someone else’s guts
You don’t take care of yourself as much as I wish you would
You don’t clean up when I ask you to
You have feet that smell
You don’t look the way you did when we were first married
You don’t do the dishes or pick up your dirty clothes
even if …
There are a thousand and one ways in which we could complete this sentence. No matter who we are no one person can ever meet every one of our needs or fulfill our dreams or aspirations. When it comes down it we really want everyone else to be more like we are, to have our qualities and opinions and abilities. But all of us are different. None of us are perfect. We all fall short of others’ expectations in some way or another. And it’s not to say that we all don’t have room for growth and the need to improve as human beings in relationship with one another. But that’s the point – we are meant to live in relationship with one another. If we reject others simply because they are different from us we will end up having no relationships at all or at least no relationships that are healthy and life-giving. We also have to acknowledge that some people are hard as hell to like or appreciate. They don’t make it easy to get along with them or enjoyable to spend time with them.
This is an area in which we all need growth. In every aspect of life – at home, at work, at school, at church – we have a hard time seeing and accepting people for who they are rather than for whom we want them to be. We so often place conditions on our love and our acceptance. We withhold ourselves and our love when others are not who we want them to be.
It is easy to love those who are lovable (those who are most like us). But it takes a lot of selflessness, putting aside our own needs and wants, and allowing others to be who they are however imperfectly we might think them to be.
Wouldn’t we all like others to do that for us? For aren’t we imperfect too?