“Having needed care and attention.”
Care is defined as “close attention or concern for another.” Clear, nurturing, competent, affectionate, confident, intentional, specific.
What a concept! What a need! Of course we think muchly about caring for our physical selves through eating, exercising, not too much sun, plenty of water, the right supplements for my needs, and other things we deem necessities. But, emotional care for our souls is a need, too. Maybe an overlooked need often, as we just busily make it from day to day..
So, for my lack of a better way to convey my understanding, the best description that helps me understand how to be cared for, is to think of what is not cared for: neglected, left alone, unattended.
I have a shameful confession. I am terrible at caring for plants. And, I LOVE plants. I love gardens! I love all things green! They are a gift that reminds me of life in such a vivid way. Yet, sadly I don’t attend the needs in a consistent way, and my results are usually not good. 😦 Yep, I’m good at talking to my plants, but I forget the consistent things like how often to water, when to have sunlight exposure, etc. for each particular one.
I think caring for something, most importantly, takes consistency and understanding individually the needs. Daily showing up. It’s truly loving in a way that is seeing who that individual is, and how to nurture their life helping them on their own journey.
What things make you feel cared for?
Deeply we feel this need, and we cry out sometimes, “Does anyone see me? Does anyone hear me?”
I’ve looked into the eyes of the forgotten. The ones who starve emotionally to know they are cared for. Maybe you’ve looked into their eyes too. Maybe even today you’ve looked into starving eyes as you peer into your mirror. I know I have at times, too.
Little ones. Big ones. Poor ones. Wealthy ones. Fast ones. Slow ones. Sweet ones. Salty ones. We’re all in this same boat together. We all have this need. We all long to be nurtured and cared for.
Can you reflect on a time that you felt cared for?
Maybe as your grandma cooked your favorite dish of chicken and dumplings when you came to visit?
Possibly when you were a child and your aunt for Christmas bought you a purple dress that you had been wanting?
A foot massage after a long day that expressed closeness and tenderness?
“I made you a special play-list of some songs I thought you would enjoy.”
Or, the fact that your girlfriend knows how much you like your quiet time, and even though she’s an extrovert she intentionally and freely encourages you to grab those moments?
A big “atta-boy” from a friend when you are successful in something you’ve worked hard to accomplish.
A cup of tea, someone running your bath, and taking care of some of your daily tasks to offer relief from a difficult day?
“You lost your phone again? It’s ok. I’ll help you search, I know you’re in a hurry… Don’t worry! We’re in this together!”
A time when your friend knows your down, and picks you a bouquet of your favorite, fresh flowers?
Clear, nurturing, competent, affectionate, confident, intentional, specific.
See, my bamboo needed less sunlight, and plenty of water, but my cactus needed less water, and more sunlight. Neither one can thrive, and be truly cared for if I try to nurture them in the exact same way. We are all uniquely, and wonderfully made. I want to be known specifically, and I can’t be nurtured truly unless you find out who I am, and what’s needed to help me thrive.
Friends, let’s not be neglectful of one another. What a joy that I can contribute to your life, and receive the same gift from you! We aren’t nurturing if we lump each other in a whole category together, or if we choose to only look through our own lenses at what each other’s needs might be! Tender attentiveness is the key to truly learning how to care.
If you are someone reading this today, and you do feel starved and abandoned please know that you are not alone. I encourage to reach out to someone that you think might can help you. It takes courage, I know, to admit where we are, but someone is out there who can nurture and care for you. I would love to hear from you, and know that you are on my heart! People do fail each other — this life is messy! But, dear heart, God does not ever fail. God cares so deeply for you, and this verse has helped me through many a night of tears, “The Lord your God is with you. He’s mighty to deliver. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He rejoices over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) In my life, He has been with me through it all, and His delight in me has been my strength and joy.
PS: Here are a couple of links if you are interested in thinking through a little more of who you are individually, or if you want to share concepts with others in your life. I think it’s fun and helpful to be intentional to slow down some and think about our uniqueness!
—The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman helps us understand a little more of how individually we feel loved/cared for.
— This personality test is based on the work of Briggs and Jung, and you can surf the internet and find more like it. I like this one, and think it has a fairly accurate assessment for most people.
Center for Relational Care, MacMillan Dictionary (2015), Abraham Maslow, Robert McGee, John 13:34-35, Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:2.