By Ron Hull
In one of his essays, C. S. Lewis illustrated how love and possessiveness are sometimes confused. There was a certain “Mrs. Fidget,” it seems, who had a reputation in the neighborhood of “living for her family.” “What a wife and mother!” everyone said.
Mrs. Fidget’s well-earned reputation came from her tireless labors for her family—despite their protestations. For example, there was always a hot meal for anyone who was at home—even in the summer. It made no difference when the family claimed they enjoyed cold meals occasionally. She would see to it that her loved ones had nothing but the best, at all times.
Mrs. Fidget’s love knew no bounds. It was unfettered by time. And so, when anyone came home late at night, there she was—faithfully waiting up to “welcome” them with a cup of chocolate or whatever. Which meant of course, as Lewis put it, “you couldn’t with any decency go out very often.”
And then she was always using her “talent” as an “excellent amateur dressmaker” and a “great knitter” (in her estimation) to make something for the family—which they felt obligated to wear.
It was said that Mrs. Fidget would “work her fingers to the bone” for her family. Everyone knew that, especially the family. Consequently, family members frequently found themselves helping her do things which they really didn’t want done.
The point of all this is that Mrs. Fidget wasn’t really living for her family. She was living for herself. She was satisfying a need to be needed. Her actions were more akin to possessiveness than love. Possessiveness is misdirected love; it is self-centered. Mrs. Fidget was the only beneficiary of her “loving” actions.
But with genuine love the focus is on the receiver, not the giver. It is unobtrusive; giving without strings attached. It seeks to set free rather than to bind. Lewis calls this “gift-love” as opposed to Mrs. Fidget’s “need-love.”
Lewis adds that the “proper aim” of this gift-love is “to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs the gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. (Gift-love) must work toward its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous.”
Ron Hull is pastor of the Church of Christ. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2909.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.