Learning to love

When I was a child, my grandmother had a pillow that she had embroidered with cute animals on it and the following saying:

"If you love something, give it away. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

I loved the pillow, not only for the picture but the quote although as a child I could hardly understand it. Even now, as an adult and mother to a large brood, I only barely have a glimpse of what it means.

What little I understand about love, I have learned from God. In fact, my daily meditation recently took me through I John where God's identity is revealed to us through His love:

"God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." (I John 4:9-10)

Love is the ultimate gift, but it's not a feeling; love is an action, a sacrifice. In fact, I believe that love is letting go of ourselves completely for the good of another person. In marriage it is forgoing the hobby that we enjoy the most to spend time with our spouse cultivating intimacy doing something we have little interest in independent of our love. In parenting, it is the sacrifice of our sleep and time to care for our children and to guide them by example until they are ready to spread their wings.

Loving my mother has been a challenge for me. My mother is not a bad person; my childhood memories are marked by highs and lows. There were (and still are some to a degree) deep wounds that needed to heal. My choice to love my mother was difficult even for me to understand for a long time.

And then the Spirit spoke to my heart, "My dear, dear child, I love you--not for who you are or will become, not for what you've done or are yet to do--but simply because you are mine."

And that is why I choose to love my mother. Not because of anything she's done (or not done), who she is except that God gave her to me. If I had to give merit to make her worthy of love, I wouldn't. But I'm sure she could say the same of me!

"Beloved, since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another." (I John 4:11)

And love, it turns out, does cover a multitude of sins and paves the way for restoration. True unconditional love never goes out without being returned. That is a wonderful blessing for the sacrifice!


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