“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love
I am convinced that the most significant lessons to learn of love are wrapped up like a bow, in the daily opportunities with our loved ones. Yes, we learn of love with strangers, and acquaintances, but the most profound learning is with those we see every day. The ones who see us at our worst. The ones who see us at our best. The ones that we are short with. The ones that we can laugh the easiest with. The ones that we get to work on everything with.
Last week, I asked my wife to come to help me at the property I manage. We spent the day pressure washing the glass awnings. After being wet and 12ft off the ground all day, we decided to take a bath before we headed home. If you had a bath at home like ours, you would not hesitate to get into this spa bath if you could!
Being the helper that I am (Enneagram #2), I took to drawing the bath, lighting some candles, getting the music playing, and making sure we had towels. I turned the water on as hot as it could go. She loves to be warm. She got in. I walked away.
I got my wife all settled and then walked away to finish a few more tasks. To check a few more things off my list before we went home. I was also stalling because I was being faced with accepting my beautiful body just as it is, naked before another human being. I wasn’t feeling beautiful at that moment as I was faced with taking all of my clothes off. I didn’t like my beautiful body really. I just know that I should love it. My clothes were my shield from having my wife see my rolls, dimples, and droopy skin.
When I walked back in to see if she needed anything, she said, “Stop what you’re doing and get in here.” I laughed at her. “I just want to finish a few more things. The water is too hot for me.” She wasn’t having it. “Get in here.”
She was right. I got in. We sat facing one another and were just talking about what was on our minds. It was sweet and I felt squirmy. I didn’t want her to see my body like this. I wanted to be 50lbs lighter, fit, and have a little glow of sunshine on me. I was mad at myself for letting my body get to this point. I wanted her to see a muscular body.
And just as she could see me getting squirmy, she asked where the soap was. I handed it to her and she said, “I want to wash you.” Her eyes started scanning my body and I was frozen. I wanted to start crying. I wanted to jump out. I held my breath. Everything froze. The opportunity to be loved, to receive love was right here and I wanted to escape. But I couldn’t. I knew this was her gift to me and that it was my choice to receive her gift. To not deny her of the love she wanted to give.
And so I sat in the tub with my wife, while she bathed me. As she’s running her hands over my body, she says, “You have a beautiful body. You are so beautiful.” I wanted to laugh and disagree loudly. My mind was filled with so many things to contradict her, but all I could do was surrender. I watched her while she washed me. She was loving my body better than I ever have. It was love, acceptance, tenderness, approval, appreciation, and honor coming through her hands.
I was defenseless in this love bath.