Are people confident in aiming their love arrows in your direction? Have you ever had children make you breakfast? The first time this happens you will probably get Pop-Tarts and chocolate milk because these are the foods children love and it's all they know how to make. We might prefer smoked salmon and eggs with a café latte, but we gratefully welcome the Pop-Tart and chocolate milk because we know that, even though childish love is by definition not yet mature, it is real and meaningful love nonetheless. And so we swallow all that sugar not for our own well-being, but for the child's, because it is important for our children to grow in confidence as they learn how to express their love for us.
The truth is, like little children, we are all in need of big targets as we learn how to aim our arrows of love at one another. We each experience love at the deepest level, in our core, in unique ways. For some, a thoughtful gift hits the bullseye of our heart; for others, its affirmation, quality time, or acts of service. And just like our tastes mature over time, so our needs and expressions of love mature with us. We don't expect children to speak our deepest love language, just like we don't expect them to serve us salmon and eggs for breakfast. In the same way, we shouldn't require people to be an expert marksman when they fire their arrows of love toward us. We're all still learning how to love the person in front of us more deeply according to their unique design. So, just like we do with children, if we want to encourage others to keep aiming their love in our direction, it helps to make our targets as big as possible. We all want to experience love in meaningful ways. But just like it takes time to become an expert marksman, so does it take time for people to learn to love us well. When we make our bullseye the only definition of success, we're shrinking our targets and setting ourselves and others up for painful failure. Instead, we celebrate the sincere love aimed in our direction, even when it comes from a direction we weren't looking for it, strikes the outer rings of our target, or falls short of reaching us altogether. Rather than discouraging people from aiming their arrows at us, we may want to consider how to make ourselves better targets. So here are a few things we should consider if we want to become Big Love Targets (BLTs):
Can people see your target? Do people know where to aim? This requires that we put up a target and make ourselves known. What do you like for breakfast? Does anyone know? Sometimes we hide our targets thinking no one is aiming in our direction anyway. But, perhaps no one is aiming because there's nothing to aim at or the target is so small they lack confidence in trying. Does anyone know your passions and fears, your struggles and needs? We have to raise big targets and say, "Here I am, this is me, and I need love." (And then we start firing our love arrows at other people to let them know we're ready for incoming)
Are you close enough to be reached? When someone is first learning how to fire an arrow, they need the target up close so they can reach it. The arms of a child learning to pull the bowstring are not yet strong enough to cover great distances. The closer the target the more often that person will hit center. This is what we want. But very often, when we experience the pain of someone missing the mark, we put more distance between us and them, often putting ourselves out of reach from any future love arrows from that direction. Who in your life needs you to move closer as they learn how to aim their love at you?
How can you make your target bigger? Learning about ourselves, our love languages, and what we need should make us easier to love, not harder. If I learn that my primary love language is acts of service, do I then despise any attempts to love me through kind words, or gifts? Of course not! Learning about me doesn't make others better marksmen; it makes me a better target. So I encourage others to fire their love arrows in my direction while I keep making my target bigger and bigger.
God has already struck the very center of your being. It's true. We're love-struck by a Divine arrow at the very core of who we are. When we get this, we realize that it is impossible for anyone else to hit this place with their arrows because that spot is already occupied. So everyone else is free to take aim and let their arrows fly in our direction without the pressure of hitting the bulls-eye because you know there's already a Divine arrow of love there that's not going anywhere.
So be a big-love target and let's not despise the attempts others make to love us, but learn how to celebrate every true arrow aimed in our direction.