How Do You Say Love?

1:16 AM

May I ask a ridiculous question? Thank you, I will. Here goes: Do people love love as much as I do? Love as in genuine love -- friendship, closeness, sticking-by-you-no-matter-what. That sort. Not the kisses and flowers sort, because I don't kiss many people and I'd rather get a Pop Tart than a flower. That probably says something about me, but there it is.

I only ask this ridiculous question because I've noticed I'm unduly giddy about the smallest gestures of love. Always have been. For instance, if you text me randomly just to say, "Oh, hey, such and such reminded me of you today," I will literally go lasso some clouds and float on them all day long. I cried happy tears every time someone sent me letters from home -- both because I usually got them on horrible days and because I'm getting older and more sentimental every second. And oh, my goodness -- if you hunt me down just to hang out with me, I will love you forever. So much so, in fact, that you'll probably regret befriending me.


My friends and I talk about the five love languages -- words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts and acts of service. They didn't figure much in my younger years. As long as I could ride my invisible horses out back uninterrupted, my day was made. I always knew I was loved. Then I grew up and started visiting with the mirror more, questioning others' intentions more, seeing in me all the bumps and blemishes inside and out. Love meant more to me then. I needed it more.

I remember coming down the stairs one day in a new dress -- or maybe it was an old one, I don't remember -- and my mom told me I was beautiful. Of course she'd told me that before, but it hit me then how much that meant to me -- as much as when my daddy told me to watch out for all the boys who might be swooning over my smiles and beauty. I didn't and still don't believe him, but every time I passed Daddy's room, I would think of that and how much I loved him for loving me. I remember the first time someone outside my immediate family (not counting those relatives at family reunions who inexplicably know every detail of your life) gave me bear hug and called me "dear." I just wasn't used to hugs as a normal thing, wasn't used to pet names. I was Bailey and I bounced too often to be caught and hugged.

Even the smallest things I remember. Somebody asking out of the blue if I wanted to quit studying for a while and hang out. Somebody saying, "Sit next to me." Somebody asking if I wanted to talk about what was bothering me.

Because there's a sixth love language -- pursuit. That's mine. Maybe it's only just mine. That's how I give and receive love.

Perhaps you will understand, after all. You know how happy you feel when you call up a friend or give a hug or snuggle down next to your sister? Think of that times one hundred -- because in the case of pursuit, somebody calls you up, gives you a hug and snuggles next to you -- unforced, unplanned, just because they want to. It sounds ridiculous, maybe even selfish, but pursuit is a form of being chosen. It's a form of saying, "I love you and I'm going to be upfront about it." It's marking you as someone special.

It's not just toleration. I fear toleration too much. I do it all the time -- I don't really love someone: I just put up with her, smiling, nodding, listening, trying to swallow the itch of desperate escape. My knees dance and I look at her nose just so my eyes don't go sliding around the room, bored. Someday, that will change. Right now it hasn't. And because it hasn't, I'm keenly aware of the same boredom in other people. I'm afraid to make the first moves all the time because I'm afraid it means that I'm the only one who cares about the friendship, that (pleaseGodno) they...don't...actually love me.

So when somebody else makes the first move, it shocks me. Then I smile. And then, normally, I dance.

I love love.

Maybe too much. It's an obsession I've had to surrender over and over. I love thinking about the people I love and smiling about all the memories we made and replaying the last goodbye hug over and over and over until I fall asleep deliriously happy. (This is all ridiculous and embarrassing to admit. How does anyone put up with me?)

Other people don't seem to. They seem to like love just fine but are perfectly happy by themselves, perfectly self-controlled, certainly don't happy dance every time somebody asks them to hang out. Normal people, you know.

I've learned that not everyone speaks this love language -- in fact, most people don't. It's a very high-maintenance sort of love, which explains a lot of things about me, I suppose -- my moodiness, my sensitivity, my giddiness over the smallest things (and maybe even my obnoxious habit of checking my phone constantly -- nah, that's just because I need to get a life). When at its best, this sort of love gives unconditionally and extravagantly, meeting needs before they're even expressed. When at its worst, it becomes a dragged-out melodrama of how nobody loves you, etc., because you expect the same level of obsessive attention you give to others. Surrender -- it's the only way to keeping this love language under control.

Fortunately, God speaks this love language. He initiates the relationship every single time. He deals out this kind of love to me every day, grace upon grace. I forget that. I shouldn't, being so needy and so in love with love. This need for pursuit drives me back to Him -- perhaps the biggest reason He taught me to speak this love language.

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10 impressions

  1. yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. y.e.s. How did you read my mind exactly? This post completely describes my day yesterday and I was on top of the world.

    But your final paragraph really hit home with me. Because so often I, being an "homeschooler who sits around home all day", will sit in my room and pout about how no one loves me. I know it's wrong, because God loves me. This neediness, this longing for love, is God given, because he wants us to long for Him. I'm going to remember this, Bailey.

    So good to read your posts again. :)

  2. You are not the only one.

    You will probably never know how much it resonated with me to hear someone else confess to this. Thank you, Bailey.

    I've read this post through twice, though probably not for the last time.

    I smiled and got teary and I am claiming this line: "Because there's a sixth love language -- pursuit. That's mine."

    - RacheL

  3. So, I finally have your love language. Prepare to be rudely awakened from bed this morning by thousands of sister hugs. :)

  4. You are definitely not the only one with that love language. It's mine too!!! I don't like initiating conversations or anything else like that either, because I am always suspicious that perhaps they are going to tolerate me only. Though I guess that I should make more of an effort to reach out, in case someone else enjoy's being singled out, like I do. Yes, this post has definitely given me alot to think about! Thank you!

  5. There's somebody else like me! =)I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this post. I can fully relate to this desire to be pursued, although I never equated it to a love language. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this subject and for offering so much encouragement!

  6. Wow, I never would have put it that way, but you totally described me. I have always been willing to pursue relationships, but as soon as I realize I am the only party pursuing I get depressed and feel like I must be somehow unlovable. I am 34 years and with 5 children and struggle with this on a regular basis. I learned as you are learning, that God is always available and always pursuing! Thanks for a great post!

  7. This is me. Completely. Is this why we get along? I think so.

  8. Along with the other girls, I am relieved to hear that I'm not the only one. Thanks for your honesty Bailey!

    Is it just me, or does this desire for pursuit seem to go hand in hand with those who might struggle with self-image? When nobody has told you that they love you in the past 12 hours, you start to wonder if maybe they've changed their minds, or *gasp* maybe you just aren't worth loving!

    This might sound awfully ridiculous to you, but is it true for more people then me?

  9. Awfully ridiculous, maybe. Painfully familiar? You betcha.

    I think that's how love languages work. If nobody speaks your language in a certain period of time (I start freaking sooner than 12 hours), you feel alone in a foreign land where nobody cares one whit about you and your delicate emotional infrastructure. Lack of one's love language -- whatever that may be -- immediately results in self-image problems.

    It's not stupid at all, I hope.

  10. Thank you for this. I don't know if I'm like that, but reading this helped me understand a friend of mine who I've been trying to... understand. Yeah. I'm not very eloquent, but thanks anyway. :)


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