Thankful November. For The Love.
Love. I’m not talking about the butterflies in my stomach kind, the Valentines Day roses, the Hollywood kind. Not today. I’m talking about agape, the way I‘ve learned it best.
I love like a mother. It’s not something I’d ever experienced before being a parent. It’s not something I could conjure up or create. I mean, I love my husband, but it was by choice - a mix of attraction and commitment and a sense that he’d return the favor. Plus he kills the spiders, hands me his paycheck to be consumed by boring stuff like groceries and electricity, and occasionally buys me chocolate for no reason.
It’s different with my offspring. I love them even if they don’t return it. Even when they’re not only unattractive, they’re downright disgusting (this has been tested and proved in a court of law, temper tantrums, and diaper explosions).
This is the love that would die for its object. Love will do hard things to make it grow better. Love admits I may do it imperfectly, but I will continue to try with all my heart, soul, and lack of sleep. Love rejoices over the first toothless smile. Love eats the bottom of the mushy banana. Love cleans up midnight vomit. Love takes away their phone and changes the WiFi password. Love says no. Love washes, dries, and repeats ad nauseam.
It’s a love that hates. Literally. I hate anything that threatens the object of my love. Even to death. Because real love isn’t cavalier nor ambivalent. It’s active. I know this, because Jesus is very gentle with me. I am so far from perfect, and I always haplessly choose the comfortable path if left to my own devices, even though it leads to hell. He sometimes allows me to take a few steps down it just so I can feel how quickly the rocks become hazardous. But He doesn’t let me continue. I would live a much different life if He didn’t intervene, which He’s had to do, sometimes painfully, dragging me up the hill I’m hurtling down. He cares proactively. I think it’s the same with good parenting.
A black bear ran across my backyard last month in the evening twilight. Several of my children were with me on the back porch as the beast lumbered toward the stream that frames our property. It was a majestic, skin-tingling sight to be within a couple hundred feet of a creature that size. The two year old ran toward the ramp, hoping to see better. I grabbed her. She squealed, not appreciating my desire to keep her safe. What if those several hundred pounds of dark muscle had suddenly turned and started running at my children? I thought about it later. I shrink from confrontation! And yet, if we couldn’t hide or escape, I would stand between any aggressor and my children and exercise my 2nd amendment rights. No question. I aggressively hold my children back from any danger I can, and when I can't, I take on the danger myself.
There have been times I've had to allow my children to be hurt for their good. I laid my little son on a cold operating table on the eve of his third birthday and walked away, leaving him in the hands of strange men who would drug him to sleep and cut into his brain. He woke later, in pain, in confusion, in hunger and terror. But if I hadn't allowed him to suffer, he would have died. It was for the love.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. II Corinthians 5:14-15
Love is selfless. It doesn't mean I'm going to share all the good chocolate that my husband brings home. But it does mean I will love you in a way that defies my own health, sanity, ability to keep a clean house, and personal gain (though ultimately, I might get those things back. If not, it's still worth it). I know it works, because Someone else did it for me first.
So today, I'm thankful for the love.