As a teenager, I heard a Jeff Foxworthy joke that went something like this:

Someone once asked me what the word love means. I thought for a minute, then reached over and grabbed his arm, twisting it around his back. Who’s asking the questions now!?

At the time, I remember being slightly baffled and thinking: Love isn’t that hard to define… is it?

However, it would seem that Mr. Foxworthy was onto something. Fast forward a few years and a few failed relationships. Combine that with more grief than I care to describe working alongside survivors who have experienced unspeakable atrocities. In addition, from their families of origin and “boyfriends,” many of our girls have never experienced anything resembling real love.

In addition to being hard to define, isn’t love supposed to be a quality that comes naturally? How do you teach someone who has not experienced real love, what it means to love and be loved?

Obviously this is a question that will take more than a blog post to answer (and quite possibly an entire lifetime of studying psychology, attachment and various interventions). But one thing that has been really fun to watch at My Refuge House, is how the girls warm up to the different aspects of our home, staff, and relationships that are so different than anything they’ve ever learned.

We once asked the girls to write down one word that described our home. It was interesting, because, knowing their stories I realized they were describing the aspects of love that they have never been able to experience previously.

Here are a couple.

For the girl who had only ever experienced punishment for her abuse and exploitation, our home represented Mercy.

For the girl who had been taken advantage of by every person in her life, our home represented safety.

For the girl who learned how to lean on God and prayer during her healing process, our home represented his unconditional love.

For the girl who had never been allowed to have a voice, our home represented respect.

And for the girl who still suffered from trauma due to an assault, our home is a refuge.

Do you want copies of these pictures? Download this link and feel free to share them as Valentines: real love is sweet

What does the word LOVE mean to you?

3 replies
  1. Mike McCauley
    Mike McCauley says:

    Love has many forms; agape, romantic, parental, brotherly. They all share a common theme of caring for another person on an empathetic level. It is what makes the world go round and life worth living. Love is the source of all joy and all sadness. We are most happy when we are loved and the most despaired when love is lost or rejected. It would be my sincerest hope that everyone experience love in their life at some point, for a life with out love would be a tragedy. Thank you for bring Love to so many, that might have never experienced it.

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