Greeting Cards

John's birthday was yesterday. So earlier in the week I was looking at greeting cards. John is easy to buy a card for. The only hard part about buying a card for him is limiting myself to one or two. There are so many cards I could choose for him. Some are more perfect than others, of course, but every expression of love, admiration and gratitude seems to describe at least a facet of my love, admiration and gratitude for John. So it's a joy to look at cards for him on any occasion.

But there are also relationships in most of our lives that are challenging, troubled and painful. Although you genuinely love the person and want to acknowledge them with a card, it can be difficult to find the one in which the sentiment expressed matches what you truly feel. I cannot give a card insincerely. And yet I don't want to choose a card that is so generic that it could be given to an acquaintance if I am giving it to someone I have had a lifelong relationship with.

So, on this particular day, I read cards in a Hallmark store for probably an hour and came up with nothing. (I later found one at Walmart that was suitable.) A salesperson checked on me several times to see if I needed help. And I told her, "Someone could make a fortune if they would create a line of cards for less than ideal relationships. When you can't necessarily praise someone for always being on your side or always listening, being there for you, making you feel loved and accepted unconditionally...but you really do love them and they matter to you regardless of the wounds and disappointments." I told her that all of the cards in this particular category were so flowery and over the top with specific forms of appreciation that I could not honestly give a single one of them. So she started to look and, after several minutes, she said..."You're right. I see the difficulty."

She then pointed me to ninety-nine cent cards that were quite impersonal and generic. Somehow, those just weren't right either. The last thing you want to do in a less than ideal relationship is be further misunderstood. I'm not buying a card because I have to or because it's expected or even to be a good person. I'm buying a card simply because I want to say "I love you."

If I created my own card, I think I would probably say something like this:

I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. And our relationship certainly reflects our mutual imperfection. We've not been everything we could have been for the other. I realize that I have also disappointed you by being who I am. In every way that I have not met your expectations, I am truly sorry. Because I have always loved you so much. More than you will probably ever know. And I have always wanted so much more for us. But I take responsibility for my contribution to our brokenness. Even though there may always be unresolved feelings and words left unspoken, I love you with all my heart and I do believe you love me. I no longer have any expectations of you. I'm not hoping to make anything ideal anymore. I have let go of all of those dreams. I want only one thing; for you to know that I deeply love you and always have.

You know, maybe I should start that line of cards myself.


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