Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love Knows No Bounds

It's hard to believe it, but a little over four weeks ago I joined a mother's group. I am one of the few with no small children, and I think the only one who has just one child, but I am enjoying the company and fellowship of other mothers even if we come from different backgrounds and situations. We have been reviewing a book called The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Kim Meeker, M.D. She's a pediatrician with years of experiencing in dealing with mothers and children, and the book has many good insights.

Today's Habit was #7, covering love. She talked about, naturally, the problems mothers experience in expressing healthy love for our children. As humans, it is natural to have certain expectations when we enter into any relationship. As mothers, we tend to envision bright, healthy, happy children who love us unconditionally and are children we are proud to be seen with in public. We envision getting along with these children and understanding them as no one else does. Then, reality kicks in and kicks us in our hearts. Our children fail to live up to our expectations. Maybe they aren't as intelligent as we'd imagined they would be. Maybe they aren't healthy. Maybe they are grouchy and irritable. Maybe they reject us. Maybe they have personalities that are our polar opposite and understanding them is a struggle. This can cause us to feel hurt and even resentful. Our expectations can get in the way of being able to truly appreciate our children and cause us unnecessary frustration and anxiety.

The other problem we might face in loving our children the way they need to be loved is that these children may remind us of people from our past. Our beautiful little girl may remind us of everything we dislike about ourselves, and so we end up rejecting her because we aren't able to accept ourselves. Our son may be the spitting image of the father or husband who left us, and so we find it hard to be around him. Our child may remind us of an aunt, an uncle, a sibling, a parent, or a grandparent who failed to love us the way we needed to be loved as a child and our wounds from that past can blind us to the beauty this particular child has to offer us. These children are a gift from God, an opportunity to show us an area of our life where we are in need of healing. Unfortunately, we might not see that until the damage has already been done.

Love is always risky. It's always going to result in some pain for both parties. The only choice we have in this life is whether to close ourselves off to love and choose anger or hatred instead, or to open up and take the risk. I see a lot of people around me, and I used to be one of them, who have chosen anger because as isolating as anger is, it's also easier. It's easier to push people away when we're hurting. It's easier to be alone, even if being alone makes us miserable.

Love, though, is exactly what we are called to do not only for our children but for every person we know. We are called to choose to love them no matter how unlovable their behavior may be. We are called to choose to embrace them when we'd rather push them away. We are called to live our lives so open to love that it can flow through us without any resistance and transform the world. It's not easy, but I promise it's worth it.

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