Accurately estimate need

By Dave Henning / July 2, 2024

“If love really means that we accurately estimate and adequately supply another person’s need, it says a ton.  It becomes unique and powerful and life-giving.  Usually when we say we love someone, we don’t accurately estimate anything.  We love people the way we want to be loved.  We think if we want to be loved a certain way, everyone else should too.”- Dick Foth

In Chapter 8 (“The Locus of Love”) of A Trip around the Sun, Dick Foth talks about a spot in northern California known as Steamer Lane.  That spot hosts an annual surfing competition called the Coldwater Classic.  A favorite place to run when Dick served as a college president.

But on a cool night in the spring of 1962, Dick sat at the very spot with his now-wife Ruth.  Even though they’d been dating for six months, Dick felt nervous about the relationship.  Because he’d been stuttering since the age of five.  However, when he questioned whether Ruth wanted to keep going with him due to his stuttering, she replied, “Oh, really, I hadn’t noticed.”

Yet, Dick notes, in the English language love functions as an accordion word.  Whether the word expands or contracts depends on the focus.  As a result, the word love ends up devoid of meaning.  It fails to say anything.  For example, “I love baseball. I love peanut butter. And I love you.”

So, Dick wryly notes, in his later years Dick’s father showed his love each Christmas with the gift of dates — jellied, powdered, filled with walnuts.  Because Dick’s father really loved dates.  Unfortunately, Dick and Ruth didn’t.

However, Dick’s father also displayed a great fondness for cheese. Hence, one Christmas Dick sent his father a ten-pound party pack of Wisconsin’s finest.  Seizing the opportunity, Dick and Ruth told him about their dislike for dates.  Guess what Dick’s father sent that Christmas??

In conclusion, Dick counsels:

“When we figure out how to love another person, it unlocks our doors, frees our souls, and sets us on the path to living the kind of life we are built for.”

Today’s question: Do you agree that love means to accurately estimate another person’s need?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Not performance based love”

About the author

Dave Henning

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