I have the privilege of helping to moderate an online forum for women who struggle with same-sex attraction. One of the things that all the people in this ministry share is a history of hurtful relationships with their families, especially their same-sex parent. (With some of them, the major wound came from not connecting with their same-sex peers as they were growing up, but all of them have some level of difficulty with their parents.)
Someone started a discussion thread called “Things I Wish I’d Heard Growing Up.” In addition to making my heart break, I thought this list, from a variety of ladies, was also instructive about what love sounds and looks like:
Ruth, you are beautiful.
You mean the world to me.
You are important in my life.
You have a gift.
I love you.
We love you no matter what.
We accept you no matter what.
You are “perfect” in my eyes.
You are beautiful to me.
I love you just the way you are!
You are important
I want you
You are smart
I love you (from my dad)
God loves you just the way you are
You are special to me
You are worth everything to me
I'd do anything for you
We wanted you
You are important
Your feelings matter
I won’t drink/do drugs anymore
Your dad loves you
Something I wish I'd seen: my parents looking happy to see me.
What would YOU like to do?
I'm glad you're a girl and it's all right to be, ‘cause it's safe.
I don't need to touch you. I can just love you.
You can fail and I'll still love you.
No matter what happens to you, we will still love you.
You don't have to be perfect, we will still love you.
I believe you.
Don't ever be afraid to tell or ask us anything. We won't hate you or disbelieve you. We will do our best to help you. Even if we are afraid or nervous sometimes.
Something I wish I'd seen and heard: My parents praying with each other, depending on each other, being transparent with each other.
I never met my biological father; he died two months before I was supposed to meet him. I always wish I could have heard him say he loved me and was proud of me. I wish I could have hugged him.
I wish my mom would have said, “Hey, let’s spend some time together,” and not have it be because she wanted to lecture me on something.
You are worth my time.
Let me do that for you.
You have done a great job (and not followed by a “but...” that wipes out what was just said)
I wish I was told that I was lovable and likeable
And here are mine:
I'm sorry you had polio. Tell me about what it's like to live with a handicap. Tell me what your heart feels about that.
You are not damaged goods, and you don't have to strive to prove yourself acceptable. You already are.
Lord, these are the cries of so many of our hearts. Let us hear You affirming us, loving us, singing over us with joy, telling us that You delight in us!