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Love: Is it Passionate or Compassionate?

Being a momma is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know it comes naturally for some people but it does not for me. I was conditioned early in life to suppress my feelings, so I never trusted them, and I have always judged them. I grew up to be harsh and brash and definitely not nurturing.

I’ve had so many needs that went unmet. Can you identify with that at all? The need to be seen, heard, acknowledged, valued, loved. All of these needs went unmet for so long that sin crept into my life, and I sought to meet them in perverse ways – not always sexual, but through manipulation and control. Because my needs were met illegitimately, I have continuously had a sense of longing and have never been satisfied with my own effort or the graciousness of others. I’m pretty jaded.

Becoming a mother has made me compassionate

But all of that changed when I became a mother. Being a mother has softened me – slowly, but surely. It has not made me weak – it has made me compassionate. There is a difference between being passionate and being com-passionate.

Compassionate suggests that I have a concern for others.

Passionate just indicates that I have strong feelings – but not necessarily toward other people.

I’ve been a very passionate person. This has caused my focus to be on the future rather than the present. What I can get, rather than what I can give or what I have to offer. But being a com-passionate person is being present in what is happening now.

Intensity vs. Intimacy

Passion is about intensity. Compassion is about intimacy.

While I have been intense for the better part of my life, what I have been unwilling to allow is closeness. I’ve had a fear of intimacy because it meant I must be vulnerable. Vulnerability leaves me open to being hurt. Being hurt is everything I try to avoid. It’s why I drank for so long. Am I the only one?

I am a challenger. It is my primary nature. I’ve done all the stupid tests and profiles – they all say the same thing. DISC High D, INTJ, Enneagram 8. All the stuff. No matter how much I wanted to get a different answer, inevitably, I am who I am. So I have to embrace me and learn to work with what I’ve got to offer.

Understanding who I am makes me a better person

I’ve grown to love my personality. I am realizing as I mature that I can embrace who I am. I’m an overachiever, have high standards, take initiative, make decisions, and I’m not afraid of anything (except losing control). I actually thrive in conflict, crisis, and confrontation because it is there that I am challenged and transform.

It’s “confrontational intimacy” – so if I pick a fight with you, it’s just because I love you. It’s primal and playful, but it’s my way of establishing contact and seeing if this relationship will stand. Don’t back down.

Compassionate love can mean being vulnerable

Because I thrive in confrontation, I usually stand up for those who are weak, vulnerable, marginalized, down and out. I am willing to deny my own vulnerability in these situations and get in the ring to take the hits if it will protect those who are not able to protect themselves.
I struggle with intimacy, so I tend to push people away with my confrontational nature. It’s intimidating. I can be seen as insensitive, especially when I have no frame of reference for the situation. I’m not an emotional person, and for a woman this is abnormal. These parts of my personality were formed and strengthened because of trauma and abuse.

Those who know me know me well and I am not too often misunderstood by the people who have gained my trust.

I am who I am. I love truthfully. I fight without fainting. I live fully. I apologize quickly. I forgive unconditionally.

My strength lies in my ability to encourage you and pull you out of the pit. I’m the first responder, the search and rescue team. I’m doing my best work when I can take the lead and help someone through a crisis. So let me do it.

My greatest weakness – my hardened exterior is my armor to protect me from emotional harm. When you’ve cracked through that and I’ve let you in and risked vulnerability, love becomes my kryptonite.

Passionate love doesn’t last

But I couldn’t maintain relationships because passionate love doesn’t last – it’s impossible to maintain that intensity with any consistency. Once I allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way with me, the condition of my heart changed.

If you have a history of childhood trauma, domestic abuse, or emotional withdrawal, take some time to become intimate with God and watch what He will do to transform you and reform all your relationships. I have done a ton of work to understand who God made me to be. That work has included traditional therapy, pastoral counseling, substance abuse recovery groups, faith-based recovery groups, accountability, fasting, prayer, study, coursework, and more. I am still on my own healing journey – seeking to be better every day.

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