How to Love Your Un-lovely

I remember it clearly. I was a strange combination of weepy and wacky teenager. Unsure of myself and never really fitting in anywhere, cracking jokes one hour and bawling eyes out the next.

This particular day, something had upset my security and thrown me into weepy mode. An argument at home ensued, me saying that I wanted to go live with someone else, go to another school, have a different life.

Mom scorned me, which only made me cry harder, feel more rejected.

Then, words that cut and still bear scars: “You’re such a crybaby. Go to your room.”

I was drowning and cried SOS words, “I don’t belong anywhere!”

Mom sneered at me, turned her back and walked off.

I retreated to my room, feeling rejection like a knife in the heart, a stone on my shoulders.

Does love send an un-lovely away? Or draw her in?

Does love try to teach a lesson through harshness, through punishment, through rejection?

When I became a parent, I never understood how one could have such a distorted view of love. But then again, I was never faced with parenting an un-lovely until adoption.  Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the needs and the ugly side of sin-wounds and my love limits were tested.

I understood how a parent could use tools of scorn, rejection, withdrawal, and anger to communicate. To protect their own heart, for survival.

The price we all paid for my enlightenment is one I don’t care to relive… it turned us all inside out, me most of all.

My understanding of Love was insufficient for my love-calling and if we were going to avoid going down in a heap of flaming, burning mess, I had to open up to Love like never before, and quick!

Not so easy a task though, when all you’ve known is rejection and condemnation and dis-connect and you don’t know how to make vulnerable, how to embrace pain and still pour out. The journey to this decision is a death in and of itself.

How to do this? Is there a “How to Love An Un-Lovely for Dummies?”

Love Himself draws me close and invites me to see myself in her. “Look,” He whispers kindly to my heart, “and I’ll show you what is inside you that I want to love away.”

I ventured a look. At first look it is horrific ugly. I want to deny it and run and pretend that it will all be okay, like I’ve been so good at doing in my life.

But He presses me again and again and as I get closer to the ugly, I see past the ugly to the SOS questions:

~~ “Am I safe with you?”

~~ “Will you leave me? Reject me?”

~~ “Are you willing to prove that you’ll go the distance with me? Bear long and late and lovingly?”

~~ “I’m scared to death. Do you have an anchor for me?”

And little by little, I hear the questions I asked but long forgot because I was sent away and like love, if I couldn’t have acceptance or security, then I wouldn’t need it.

I am opened up to my own needs all over again. It is scary.

But like the Dr. Seuss book says, “On you will go, though the Hakken Kraks howl, on you will go…”

And so we go on, Love and I, one painful step at a time.

“How do I love,” I ask Him. “You know I don’t know what I’m doing here. You know all my wiring is not equipped for this voltage and I’m on my knees for the sake of the six of us who live under this roof and the hundreds of people our lives will affect for generations to come…I’m pleading with You…show me how to do this!”

Slowly, because I am a slow learner, I start to see what He is wanting to teach me….

When sinking, He reaches down to rescue, doesn’t send us away. So I start looking for His rescue attempts for me and I start throwing them out to her.

When determined to strike out on own, He allows painful consequences to bring us to our senses…and is always ready, watching, waiting for restoration. (John 15) So I return to the Father in new ways instead of being fearful to return… and I start looking for natural consequences for poor choices she makes to help her come to her own senses.

When actions are unbecoming, He sees beyond outward behaviors to the unspoken and unknown reasons. FEAR is a driving force behind ugly and unlovely behaviors and God’s remedy for that is to reassure us that there is nothing to fear, helping us identify it in ourselves and walking us through it with words like, “I am with you!” “I will help you!” “I will never let go of you!” “I will always be here for you, no matter what.”

So I work at identifying my own fears and listening for His walk-through words and when her uglies come out, I get eye level with her and help her identify her fear and walk her through it. (I.E. “Are you afraid you are going to miss dinner if you pick up your toys?”


“Does mommy love you?”


“Mommy is not going to let you go hungry, alright?”


“Do you want me to help you finish, then we can all go to the table to eat…”)

For the first time, I know Love is active in me, trying to be Perfected and it is a wonder that I can’t understand, that Love is Perfected in us when we love another.

Part II soon- “Elements of Love: How God Loves”


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