The Rejected Gift of Love

Sometimes a gift of love can be misunderstood, rejected, or even worse, seen as an attack or a betrayal by the recipient. This can be very painful for the giver of the gift.

A friend of ours was recently in crisis. We offered our love in the highest way we could. We were met with anger and our gift of love was rejected. The reaction hurt us deeply, so we took a careful inventory of anything in us that could have been our responsibility. It is very important to both of us to take complete responsibility for our own actions. We searched our souls for any attached strings in our giving, any agenda of what we wanted back. We came up with none. Our motivation was our caring.

We finally understood that behind the crisis, this person was in deep soul pain, was not really wanting to look at it, and projected onto us the blame for this pain. Our responsibility was taking the risk to offer love when it wasn’t asked for, a gesture that holds the potential of being rejected.

I can understand why a person would reject a gift of love. I have done it myself with Joyce at moments when I was miserable and therefore lacking self-love, like in the middle of an argument. I remember at one of these times, after both of us had expressed our pain and anger, I felt my heart shut tight to Joyce. But then she caught me off guard. She softened, a light of understanding came into her eyes, and she told me she loved me and wanted us to be close again. I, however, was still locked into my own hurt and blame of her, and responded to her with anger. It was a true act of love on her part that I was rejecting. It was almost as if the sudden burst of light coming from Joyce’s face and heart was too much for me. The love coming toward me was a stark contrast to my dark mood, and I responded by pushing it away. That action on my part was devastating to Joyce, coming from her vulnerable reaching out. She burst into tears and left the room. I was then even more miserable as I realized the missed opportunity for reconnection and happiness.

Being committed to my personal growth, I couldn’t stay very long in self-righteousness and blame. I could reach out to Joyce from my own vulnerability and, together, take responsibility for each of our parts in the inharmony. Together, we have a commitment to work out every inharmony until we are both in our hearts.

We can never be guaranteed that our gift of love will not be thrown back into our face. If this happens, it can hurt, sometimes deeply. It helps to see how the person has reacted because of their pain, rather than from their true selves. Yet sometimes you simply cannot ignore the hurt you feel yourself. What to do? Honesty is always important. But remember, the highest responsibility is honesty with yourself. If you feel hurt, admit it to yourself. You may feel unappreciated, betrayed or angry. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.

It requires real listening to inner wisdom to know when and how to express your feelings to the person you were trying to love. But if your heart says yes, than you’ve got to do it. We wrote a letter to our friend. That felt like the clearest way to express our feelings. We haven’t heard back yet. We may never hear back. That isn’t the point. It was for our own sense of completion that we wrote the letter. The risk to love is the risk to become vulnerable. You can only love another if you are willing to risk getting hurt. In this sense, becoming a lover is to become a warrior of the heart.

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