Thursday, January 27, 2011

True Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... (I Cor. 13:4-8)

It's been pretty rare, but every once in awhile I've gotten a comment from someone that goes something like this, "I could never do what you're doing."*

I know it's meant as a compliment.  The person saying these words is trying to tell me that I'm doing a good job with my child.  They're commenting on my strength and trying to let me know that they look up to me. They're letting me know that they see that sometimes my life is hard, which is a nice thing to acknowledge.

The underlying message, though, is clear: "Your life looks like it must be horrible. I'm so glad I'm not you."

It's such a strange comment to me. What's the alternative to "doing what I'm doing"? Give away a child who isn't our society's definition of perfect (even though he's perfect in my eyes)? Emotionally distance myself? Give up on trying to develop my child to be the best person he could possibly be? To me, those aren't options.

The truth is, you could do what I'm doing. You could and you would...at least I hope you would for your child's sake. If your child got into a car accident and were forever altered, would you abandon them? Or would you step up and try to help them recover? Our situation isn't any different, except for the timing of the injury.

There is a really sad trend in our society in which we think love is conditional, that it's something we have no control over. This is more common in romantic relationships where you might hear one person proclaim with a shrug of the shoulder, "I just fell out of love with him/her." When have we stopped taking responsibility for our emotions? Love is a choice, not just a feeling. This is especially true when a couple decides to get married. Does anyone even listen to their vows anymore? In sickness and in heath. Good times and bad. Not...well, I guess I'll stay with this person until I'm just not feeling it anymore.**

Does this carry over into parenthood too? Can we only love a "perfect" child? I would hope not, as you're going to have an incredibly hard time finding one to love!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that true love is unconditional. True love is loving someone as God would love someone.

If you want to see an example of true love, watch the following clip. It's been floating around facebook, so you've maybe already seen it. If you're a diehard American Idol fan, then you've definitely already seen it.

Grab your kleenex.

This is what true love looks like, people.

--------

A couple of disclaimers:
*I'm not picking on anyone here with the "I couldn't do what you're doing" comment. I can't remember the last time someone said that to me or even who it was (it's no one that reads this blog as I wouldn't feel comfortable writing about it if it were), nor am I really offended my the comment.  I'm just trying to make a point about the underlying message in such a comment.

**I'm not making a judgement call on anyone for having gotten a divorce. Please know that I understand that sometimes there just isn't any other choice. Again, I'm just trying to make a point about the nature of love.

10 comments:

Kathy said...

Lisa, you are a wise woman in many ways. Each experience we have in our lives brings us closer to the "whole" person we will become. Pain is sometimes involved in that. Love does endure all. How blessed we are to have God's love. AND the love of a very special little boy. How could you not love him. Love you, Leetza.

Anonymous said...

Lisa,
Well said on so many levels. Another thing our pastor points out is love is a VERB, its an ACTION, a conscious choice, every single day, do you work for the relationship or against it?

You are an inspiration to many moms out there, regardless of the labels given to their children! Hope, determination, perseverance and unconditional love... all things I would hope all parents strive for, but so many of us (myself included) fall short on.

Ultimately, our love for our children, and in our romantice relationships is a direct reflection of the love we've felt from God in our own lives - don't you think? :)

Thanks for the candid posts!
Ann

Heather said...

What an awesome statement Lisa! Your blogs always make me think about what I'm saying. They're very encouraging and you're such an amazing woman! Keep spreading your light sista!

Jennifer said...

I love this post! Maybe because the whole special needs world is so new to me still and Andrew is so young, I am still hearing this comment on a weekly basis, from multiple people. I am NEVER comfortable when people say it, although I do smile and mumble something like, "Thanks! But I know if, god forbid, you were ever in this situation, you would handle it really well, too!" or, "Well, it's life, you know? Life threw me a serious curve ball and I'm just trying to give it the best swing I can." I hope I don't come off too bitter haha. But from day one, the hero/you're amazing/etc. comments have always left me a little bit bewildered, although well-meaning...

Beautiful post.

Michelle said...

Lisa,
AGREED!! I wholeheartedly agree with every single thing you said. I admire you for everything you do for your Elijah, but would I do the same things were I in your position? Absolutely! That's why I relate to the things you talk about so much. I just imagine myself in your shoes, and I know I would feel the same things you feel in your quest to help your son reach his hightest potential. That is the quest of every parent.

And the comments about love and marriage... again, I could not agree more. Love is a CHOICE! And sometimes we need God's help to love when we don't "feel" like it at times. But we can always choose to serve another, thus growing our love for them. Or we can choose to pray fervently for the power of God to help us love others the way he loves them. Either way, it is our choice!

Sorry to go on and on, this post just really struck a chord with me. Thank you so much for sharing!!

Haley's Mom said...

Well written Lisa. People at their best would of course do what you do. Unfortunately there are people out there that wouldn't, but I think that the people that say that are truly saying that they look up to you and admire you for what you do. I feel that from people, it gives me encouragement.

Beth at Odd Girl Out said...

this was so well written, lisa. my sister jokes that i should print this post, and hand it out to people who say that very thing to me about betsy. so, so great!

sadly, i've even had someone ask me if i would have aborted betsy had i known what she would be like. they said that they would have because they just aren't the kind of person that would be up to the challenge like me. what?!?!?!?!

it is a horrible world we live in. that people think they can choose these things. more importantly, i'm sad that individuals don't give themselves nearly enough credit. we are capable of so much, but society as a whole has become so lazy and entitled.

i thank god everyday betsy has a family that would never feel like we 'couldn't do it'. i grow weary at times, but never, never give up on her or myself.

i admire you!

MamaBear said...

Dang, Lisa--
this is all so good and right and true.
It totally applies to all my relationships too. Thanks
-Libby

Murzelmom said...

Wow!

Murzelmom said...

Hello Lisa!

Let me tell you I *love* the whole way you put this, every single word and sentence. Thank you so much for giving us a sample how to tell people that we trust in our Heavenly Lord and what LOVE is all about. It's a choice. Agreed a thousand times.

Thanks, too, for giving yet another sample: How to make sure we aren't condemning anyone who got divorced or else.

You are right, and so are all of your commentators.

Let me add one thing:

I think you are right that any parent would act like you if they were in your situation. With a few sad exceptions, unfortunately, like some of you have pointed out - agreed, too.

But there is yet another possibility: If they just have to give their handicapped child away because they are physically or mentally unable to cope. That wouldn't mean they wouldn't love them.

I tell you that because I am a mom of a typical child. Because I have some kind of special needs myself. I didn't know what it is for so many years, and now I guess it could be Asperger's Syndrome.

I was afraid of becoming a mom before I had figured out what went wrong in my own life. Thus my daughter was born late in my life.

I can cope. But - for instance - I have severe sleeping problems (along with other problems) and my little one lets me sleep in every day because I just couldn't cope otherwise - and because she understands that. School will be a problem for me, not for her.

If I'd happen to say such a thing like "I couldn't do what this or that mom is doing" I'd refer to my own difficulties, not to the child. I am not unable to love special needs persons, but I might be unable to cope with life in such a situation.

I know that most people who utter that sentence don't mean it that way. But I would. I am just very thankful that God lets me experience being a mom despite my problems having given me a very autonomous child.

Lisa, I wil copy your essay about love and learn it by heart. It will help me the next time when I would be at a loss of words again otherwise.

Regards

Britta

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