Last year I posted about making one of those, 0h-so-popular, “I love you because…” frames for our bathroom.
We use it to communicate little love notes every so often. It’s been fun because words are so powerful.
A few weeks back Zach and I got into an argument. It wasn’t so much of an argument as it was Zach did something that made me angry and I didn’t really speak to him for a while (a while for us is like a day most of that time spent at work, but still).
I was so angry though, and it was exhausting. I kept validating my “rightness” in my mind…I kept thinking of every single way Zach’s offense was hurtful.
I was cleaning the house on that day with some of my angry energy. The little frame in the bathroom had the latest note written by me to Zach. It read: “I love you because I count down the days until we’re together. 1 more sleep!”
I furiously started erasing my words like a mad woman…rage filled me as I slammed the frame back down on the counter, completely bare.
Zach left for work that day and before he did, he took a moment and did this:
At the time I wasn’t sure if it was a peace offering or a point. Probably a little of both.
And though I was right to be upset about his actions, I also needed that little reminder.
Zach is better about loving unconditionally. He has never asked me to change one thing about myself…not one. He’s never asked me to cook differently, to be less lazy when I’m going through a lazy phase, or to stop putting on sweats when I immediately get home from work. He’s never asked me to stop singing in the car, or to stop talking even though I do a lot of it. He’s never even asked me to spend money more wisely when I make mistakes with our budget.
I love Zach fiercely, but I can’t say the same. There have been a few times where I have requested that Zach change. Focusing on the things I think Zach should change about himself, only shifts my focus from good to bad when viewing him. And that’s not fair. And that puts me on a path to making conditions for him to feel loved.
I shouldn’t have to have a reason to show Zach I love him. I should love him regardless of whether or not he picked up the house and did the dishes. I’m learning that withholding/showing expressions of love when I am angry or when I’m pleased is actually mistaking gratitude for love.
The message I was sending in wiping that board clean was, “You made a mistake and because you made a mistake, you don’t deserve to feel my love right now.”
How sad would it be if that’s how Heavenly Father treated us every time we made a mistake?
Zach deserves what he gives me. He deserves to know that I love him…all the time. When he messes up and when he makes my day. I love him. There are times I am grateful for his actions and there are times his actions make me upset, but those don’t affect whether or not I love him deep down and so my displays of that love shouldn’t be contingent upon his actions. My affections shouldn’t be conditional.
I went ahead and recreated the frame to reflect how I really feel about Zach. It gives me an opportunity to remind him that I love him always, but also lets me add a note of gratitude, best wishes for a great day, a reminder about a hot date that night, or whatever my heart desires.
Even when I have nothing else to say, “I love you… a really lot” is always on display. Not that there’s anything wrong with an “I love you because” note, but I personally like this one a lot better.