“Lookin’ For Love”

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
lookin’ for love in too many faces
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of
(Johnny Lee)

I’ve read that babies who are not loved and held develop what is called “failure to thrive syndrome” and may die. Relationships, certainly marriages, without love, usually end in a gasp or a whimper with a “do not resuscitate” sign attached as they cannot be sustained without love. Because we are creatures with a strong and innate will to live, we search for love to ensure our viability. So began my own search for love.

It was many years ago when I first entered the Love Shop on Park Street, in Everywhere, USA. I saw many beautiful, sparkly items for sale. Each item was labeled, “Love.” How would I ever choose just one from the vast array? I left the shop that day thinking that my carefully chosen item would bring me fulfillment to last a lifetime. It did not. I found myself returning to the shop again and again purchasing new items — all of them labeled, “Love.”

I purchased them with the hope they would make me feel loved, cherished, and worthy.

The first item I purchased was Pleaser. It was soft and smooth and was advertised as “sure to please” and promised that “everyone will want to be your friend.” I brought it home and tried it on. It seemed to fit me well and eventually it felt as comfortable as my oldest well-worn sweatshirt. Until one day it didn’t feel as comfortable anymore. I came to the realization that it wasn’t the real thing. It was a fake. I tried to return it, but the shop owner said, “No returns, all sales are final.” It had not only become uncomfortable to wear, it had also begun to shed. Sticky, syrupy, tasteless pieces. I got tired of the debris and I finally threw it out.

Returning to the Love Shop, I chose an even shinier item. Sex. Surely this would make me feel loved, cherished, and worthy. It did, until it didn’t. I felt disillusioned. Once again, I knew I’d been sold a knock-off.

Next I purchased Performance and I soon became exhausted trying to keep up with the instructions. The most important one warned, “Everything you do must be done perfectly, without exception. If you cannot achieve perfection, you are a failure.” A daunting challenge, but I was sure I could handle it. Until I couldn’t.

Back at the Love Shop I found a shiny, motorized treasure, Servant to All. Surely this was the one that would bring me love. The lengthy instructions stated that in order for the product to work, one must, “Be willing to help others at all times under all conditions and saying no to any request, or perceived need, could result in feelings of failure.” It also strongly suggested that, “Putting oneself last will give more time to serve others, and self-reflection and boundaries are both unnecessary time-wasters; time that can be used helping others.” The red highlighted warning exclaimed: “Shutting off this device may result in its failure to restart as the motor may seize from overuse or lack of care.” Additionally, it warned, “This product may be hazardous to your health and has not been approved by the Surgeon General or anyone else except those you are serving. The consumer will assume all risk in use of this item.” Once again, I knew that I’d purchased a faulty and perhaps even dangerous product. Disclaimer to reader: As you try to off-load this one, there may be side effects, the main one being, Guilt.

I returned to the Love Shop. I began to search intently. I leaned over the counter straining to see if there was perhaps something hidden that I had missed before. Nothing. I’d tried everything the Love Shop had to offer.

I walked out the door with my empty, well-worn shopping bag. I wadded it up and tossed it in the nearest trash container. Disillusioned, weary, and sad, I returned home wondering how I’d survive without love.

As I sat quietly reflecting on my purchases over the years, weariness rolled over me and I began to weep. How I longed to feel loved, cherished, and worthy. I needed love to survive! I lifted my hands upward and cried out, “Oh God, where can I find real, lasting love?” I felt a peace descend upon me. A peace beyond any thrill or momentary pleasure I’d ever experienced. I’d finally found the love I’d craved.

It is He who reminds me daily that I am loved, cherished, and worthy.

Barbara married her high school sweetheart many years ago where they’d met running the mile in track together on respective teams. Today, she feels happiest riding her bike, swinging on her big old wooden swing on the back patio, sun on her face, sitting hear Lake Michigan listening to the waves, and when she’s playing with her grandchildren. She’s discovered that they bring out the little girl in her who still eagerly wants to come out and play. She, and the little girl inside her, are learning to speak truth. It is a work in progress. She looks to Red Tent Living as a place to hear the clear ring of truth, vulnerability, and strength in the writings and responses from so many beautiful women. It encourages her to keep on keeping on. She is grateful for all who make this forum possible.