He doesn’t HAVE to love you…

Many of you know that I lost my Mama last month, so “family” has been a lot on my mind. Of course, during that difficult time, our immediate family was together for several weeks. It had been a long time since we had spent an extended length of time together. And while it was a sad time, we truly enjoyed being with each other. Most of my “stories” have come from lessons that I was taught by both of my parents; however, this week’s article is another life lesson that my Mama taught me when I became a teenager.

My mother’s parents (my Mamaw & Papaw) were given a gift late in their life and marriage – a baby boy!! When he was born, he was already an uncle to quite a few nieces and nephews…me being one of them. Although he was just a few years younger than me, we grew up as brother and sister. I cannot remember a time, that I did not have my arm around him, loving on him, and ALWAYS taking care of him. We were constantly together and definitely “two peas in a pod.” I adored him…and the feeling was very mutual – he adored me also. We grew up together, playing and enjoying childhood as it was meant to be enjoyed! However, as I grew older, I matured a little faster than him…and began wanting to do more “adult” activity than childish activity. He would continue to come over to our house every day, but I began ignoring him…never having any time for him.

My Mama had been observing the changing dynamics of our relationship, and finally, one afternoon after I had finally gotten him to go home and leave me alone, she sat me down and talked to me very lovingly. She explained that just because he was family, did NOT mean that he had to, or would always, love me and want to be around me. Just hearing her say those words struck fear in my little heart. I could not imagine a world with him not loving me. She explained that she understood that I was “growing up,” and changing, but that he would also eventually go through that transition. She explained that how I treated him NOW, would certainly impact how I would be treated later on. She also told me that I was hurting him.

I GOT the message! I began treating him much better, making time for him, and letting him know that I loved him, and maybe even more importantly, I wanted him to keep loving me. I realized, from this young age, that all relationships need tender caring love…nurturing…cultivation…consideration…respect…EVEN if they are your blood relatives!!! See, they don’t HAVE to love you…you STILL have to earn that love and respect. Why is it that we sometimes give perfect strangers more respect, more attention, more consideration, than we give a family member? So, this week I am going to concentrate on letting my family members know just how much I love them, how much I need them, how much I LIKE them, how much I enjoy them…and that I want them in my life! Won’t you join me? Just for this week… 

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