When Love Received Doesn’t Equal Love Given

15 07 2013

As the mother of seven children, I have discovered the enigma of unequal love between parent and child.

In a time of difficulty with a child – especially a teen or grown one – to hear a parent say something like, “Look at all I’ve done for you, all I’ve given up for you. This is how you pay me back?” I’ve never said these words, but I’ve certainly thought them.

Most kids can’t wait to grow up and get away from their parents. Some leave without looking back, not because life’s been hell, but just because their time has come and they’re “Outta here.”

When my children began to come of age, first one, then another left. At first they stayed in the same town, but then they began to put more and more distance between themselves and us. Because my birth family stuck together, I was confused by this and somewhat hurt.

While they were in town, we would see them from time to time. When we did, they would tell us about the fun bar-b-ques and parties they’d had with friends and other family members. Because I had abandonment issues, it was hard to smile and listen intently while wondering why they didn’t include us in their adult life.

Was it me? Had I done something?

Now that they were grown, I wanted a friendship with them. I wanted them to want the same from me.

When my mom moved to heaven eight years ago, my birth family and my family of children blew apart. The first three years, my husband and I went to a local buffet on the major holidays, just the two of us. Without Grandma to celebrate with, my kids all stayed home or went to their other parent’s to celebrate. Those were very hard years.

One day I was whining at the Lord about the situation. (Yes, sometimes I whine!) My heart was raw, and I was struggling to understand why I’d been abandoned by my own children.

I didn’t add, “After all I’ve done for them.” Life with me as a mother wasn’t always the greatest experience in the world. I made many mistakes.

{One thing a relationship with Jesus gives that religion can’t is answers to life’s problems.

There was no “pat” answer that would speak to my pain and lessen its icy grip from my heart.

“Rejoice in the Lord always” and “Count it all joy” just didn’t cut it.}

When I finished whining, Jesus began to speak to me about this paradox. He understood my pain far more than I thought He ever could. What follows is my paraphrase of our conversation (I didn’t record it. :().

We talked about romantic love. He asked if I understood how it developed. I thought about it for a bit and realized that it was the fact that we spent so much time thinking about one another; good thoughts, positive thoughts. Anything negative was either overlooked or quickly dismissed.

What about parents and children. How does parental love develop for a child?

Hmm. I guess after at least six months of thinking about the baby, planning for the baby, preparing for his or her arrival, so much thought has been given to the child that love is (usually) already in full swing when they arrive.

In both instances, what caused love to grow?


Our love for them was unearned.

They didn’t necessarily deserve it.

We chose to make them the object of our affection.

If we have a new spouse, we focus on what they like/dislike, be it food, decor, recreation, topics of conversation, and ways to best meet their needs.

If we have a child, we focus on what we must do to care for them: food, clothing, furniture, development, etc.

Welcome either into our lives, though, and we soon discover what we truly value.

If we let:

Our career,

Our fussy little house, or

Our dreams and goals

become what we focus on, watch our love for spouse or child begin to wane.

The Bible states it this way: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Let one’s treasure become something other than the spouse or the child, and love will surely die.

The spouse walks away without a backward glance.

The child is neglected and forced to get by in a world of strangers: babysitters and day care centers.

Children, on the other hand, are not required to spend time worrying about their parents: how to feed or clothe them, how to meet the adults’ needs. They are self-absorbed, about the business of figuring out the world around them.

Consequently, as adults they continue to focus on creating a life for themselves.

This isn’t wrong, it’s just the way it works.

The one who lays down their life for spouse or child develops greater love than do those for whom the sacrifice was made.

I thanked the Lord for this insight. It helped me understand that my kids’ behavior wasn’t wrong. They were maturing and taking their place in the world as they should.

But Jesus…

…went on to say that He understood my feelings on a very personal level.

He said that He thinks about us continually (Psalm 139…more than all the sand in the world – and that’s just while we sleep!). He cares for us, provides what we need, has plans for us, and watches over us. He seeks a relationship with us; wants us to know Him…go beyond self-absorption, mature, and seek His friendship.

We often don’t give Him a second thought…unless we want something from Him…not unlike our immature kids!


He laid down His life for us…only to watch us walk away and forget all about Him.

He saw us fooling around with other “lovers,” and worshiping other gods even though we were betrothed and have sworn to love, honor, and obey.

Oh, yes! He knows how it feels…

…when the love He receives does not equal…

the love He gives.

As an abandoned spouse, He beckons us:

To return to our first love

To delight ourselves in the Lord

To meditate on Him day and night

To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.


Put your fingers on a pulse point. Feel that? It’s Jesus knocking (Revelation 3:20).

His humility astounds me!




19 responses

18 07 2013

Another great post I thoroughly enjoyed reading, which reminded me of a verse I will share with you. It is Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Oh, how precious that is!

The following quote from your post is so true …

Oh, yes! He knows how it feels…when the love He receives does not equal…
the love He gives. As an abandoned spouse, He beckons us:

To return to our first love
To delight ourselves in the Lord
To meditate on Him day and night
To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I’m so thankful that God’s love has no limit and His grace and mercy has no measure. His power has no boundary known unto men, for out of His infinite riches in Christ Jesus He giveth and giveth and giveth again. Praise God that His Eternal Word and His love is perfect, unchanging.and everlasting.

May the Lord bless you and continue to use your writings and experiences to encourage and to minister to the needs of those who read your blog and especially the love that you have for Jesus, which is very evident in your writings.

His servant … Mikey

18 07 2013

Mmm. Thanks, Mikey! Sharing Jesus through this blog has become the greatest delight of my life, next to worship.

The Lord is great, and greatly to be praised. From the rising of the sun to it’s going down I want to praise Him and give Him glory. He has done an amazing work in me, for which I will be eternally grateful!

Have a blessed day!

16 07 2013
Elizabeth Yalian

Tami, Thank you so much for sharing this. Yes, it’s true. Jesus would certainly understand how we forgotten parents feel. I also suffer from a broken heart because of kids. I too have had God’s voice in the background reminding me that He as our Heavenly father often feels the same way. Last year, my husband and I left town for Christmas. Between my son’s death in 2011, my daughters deep rejection and some issues with my husband’s sons, we couldn’t bare the thought of one more Christmas in the same town! I hate that life has to hurt so much at times and I am so sorry for your ache in this most dear area to a mother’s heart. You should check out my post, Forgotten Parents, I am sure you will be able to relate. I keep asking God, what do you want me to learn from this! May the Lord, flood you with blessings and bring your children back to you.

16 07 2013

Thank you Tami for sharing your insights from the Lord with us! I was blessed by this blog!

16 07 2013

I’m so glad you stopped by!

A dancer, eh? I LOVE to dance – next week we will be dancing for the kids at Vacation Bible School. So fun. I can’t wait until heaven when I can dance often.

Praise Jesus

16 07 2013

Absolutely fantastic and very beautiful, thank you!

16 07 2013

Thank you. 🙂

I so appreciate not having to take my kids’ maturing process personally!

Hey, may the Lord’s face shine upon you brightly today and give you peace!


15 07 2013

I too thank you for sharing Jesus with me!

15 07 2013

It was my great pleasure. 🙂


15 07 2013
Kari Anne Dorstad

This reminds me of the song by Helen Lemmel years ago: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”, Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.Thanks for sharing how you do this.

15 07 2013

Thanks for sharing the song, Kari. I love that one!


15 07 2013
Valerie Rutledge

Tami, as my girls would say “I could just kiss your whole face!” I love how you always know just how to communicate to us what Jesus shares with you.

15 07 2013

That is probably the highest compliment I’ve ever received. You made me giggle, and plastered a huge grin on my face. Thanks, Valerie!

15 07 2013
Valerie Rutledge

Glad to hear it!

15 07 2013

Wow!! I am just blown away by this. My mom is currently struggling with this exact thing from my brother and it is devastating her, I also know 2 other women from my shop that have spoken to me about this exact same thing, I am going to forward to them. Tami, this post is going to bless many. Thank you for sharing your heartache which the Lord led you to and through for others and his glory as he knew you would share. Blessings to you!! Marty (msinop1.wordpress.com)

15 07 2013

God is so good to us – gives us just what we need when we need it, eh? What a wonderful Lord we love!


15 07 2013

He is wonderful 😉

15 07 2013

Exactly what I needed to hear:-) Thanks for sharing Jesus with me this morning!

15 07 2013

Glad to be of service. Don’t you love how Jesus does that for us?


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