How Do We Become More Loving?

Oftentimes, when I have learned a powerful lesson, I embrace it but I don’t verbalize it.  Other times, I verbalize it but the words fall very short.  Today I read the following excerpts from Elizabeth Lesser’s, The Seeker’s Guide.  This is what I want to say and often want to explain.  I am so grateful to her for putting it so well. I add just this one imput: We cannot love well in our own humaness.  We need to tap into the source of love in order to do that.  God is that source, for God is love.

‘…Love is the fruit of spiritual labour; it is not a technique you try or a dogma you adopt.  Love is the secret you unmask yourself to find; it is the foundation of the spiritual life, the destination where all roads of the journey lead. But it does no one any good to rush the process, nor to enforce loving behaviour.  Loving behaviour is unenforceable and herein lies the mystery of the spiritual life and the mistaken role of religions.  You cannot legislate forgiveness; you cannot make hate illegal; you cannot require love.  Just as you can’t pull a shoot out of the ground and demand that it flower then and there, love cannot be forced.  Spiritual work prepares the ground.

Love will blossom when our egos and our wounds and our fears have been worked with, tilled into the soil of our understanding.

When we do the hard work of stilling the mind and opening the heart, we come into love….

You can’t force yourself to love others.  If you could, the world wouldn’t be in the mess it is now…’

–Elizabeth Lesser

A Story About Grace

 

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The tempo of the music bursting from the speakers increased and so Dermia picked up her pace to match.  The hair on the nape of her neck had already become drenched through her efforts.  She felt proud of herself because she knew that her new exorcise routine was going to pay off and hopefully she will look great in the dress she picked out for her sister’s wedding.  It hadn’t been easy trying to find the right dress.  Every one she had tried on revealed some unwanted bulge.  In the end she decided on a dress that concealed her flabby arms even though it didn’t perfectly hide her round tummy.  Dermia chose it because she felt it was easier to lose a bit of fat more easily from her middle than her arms.  She only needed to lose ten pounds and the dress would be fine.  It was really important to look her best on the day, after all she was the sister of the bride and part of the wedding party.  The wedding was going to be a large affair and there was the chance that she may meet someone rather interesting.  It didn’t feel fair that her sister would soon be married to her childhood sweetheart while she being older was a single mom who had had her heart broken.  As if on cue, a small voice interrupted her thoughts from the doorway.

“Mummy, is it breakfast time yet?” asked Grace, Dermia’s four year old daughter.  “My tummy is rumbling.”

“It’s almost breakfast time,” Dermia panted.  “I just need to finish working out to this cd and then I will make you some breakfast.”

When the CD was finally finished, Dermia put it back in its case. She was about to run into the bathroom to have her shower when Grace popped in front of her with a hopeful grin.  Her blond hair was still dishevelled from her night’s sleep and her mother suddenly noticed that her pyjamas were in need of a wash. Grace’s large, bright eyes looked up at her mother’s.

“Can I have Cheerios with raisins for breakfast?”

“Um…Grace, can it wait till I have my…”

“Pleeeassse!”

“Mummy is just going to have her shower first. I will be very quick.”

Dermia ran into the bathroom and quickly stepped into the shower.  She spotted the new shower gel she had bought and suddenly slowed down in order to inhale the fragrance of patchouli and jasmine.  It had been a bit expensive but it was worth every penny.  She felt a twinge of guilt for dipping into the money from her child support which she received from Grace’s father but then brushed it out of her mind by telling herself she often uses her own hard earned money for things Grace needed. After finishing her shower and drying off.  She went upstairs to her bedroom and carefully chose her clothes for the day.  Today she was taking Grace to her first day of preschool. She chose clothes which she hoped would make her look like a successful business woman to the other mothers even though she actually worked nights as a seamstress in a clothing factory.

Fully dressed and with carefully applied make-up, she went downstairs and walked into the kitchen to find Grace happily eating a bowl of cheerios without milk.

“Grace! What are you doing?  You were supposed to wait for mummy to get you breakfast.”

“You werm bishy so I wamted to hep by getting it myshelf,” said Grace with her mouth full of Cheerios.

Grace grinned up at her mother.  One solitary Cheerio was hanging precariously in front of her mouth making it look like an oddly shaped and enlarged tooth.  Dermia smiled back and went over to the refrigerator to get the jug of milk out.

“I’m sorry I made you wait so long for your breakfast.”

“That’s okay Mummy.  You had to get ready for my first day of school.  You’re pretty mummy.  I love you.”

“You’re right Grace.  It’s an important day today and you and I have to both look pretty.  So hurry up and finish your breakfast so we can get you dressed.”

Grace arrived with her mother at Little Acorns preschool looking adorable with her OshKosh B’gosh polo dress and denim jacket and her hair put up in one wavy ponytail with a Frozen hair ribbon. Dermia had a quick word with Grace’s teacher to ensure Miss Price was aware of how exceptional Grace was and how devoted a mother Dermia herself was.  She then dashed off to her ‘business meeting’ aka the nail salon to get her infills.

Grace was enjoying her day at preschool.  Miss Price handed out paper and crayons and asked the children to draw a picture of someone they love.  Grace worked hard and thoughtfully on her picture.  When she showed it to Miss Price, her teacher smiled quizzically but praised her effort.

Dermia was happy with the results of her new manicure and was about to do some grocery shopping when she ran into a friend of hers.  They decided to have lunch at a café.  The café was closed however so they went to a small restaurant across the street.  As they were both on diets, they decided to each have the soup of the day, a bowl of marinated olives and a glass of wine each.  What they ended up having was the soup of the day with crusty bread and butter, a bowl of olives and three large glasses of wine each.

Suddenly, Dermia realized she had five minutes to get to Little Acorns and pick up Grace but it would take fifteen minutes for her to walk there.  She quickly said goodbye to her friend and toddled off as fast as she could to Little Acorns.  On the way there she passed some construction workers who were working on a new build.  One of the workers did a wolf whistle and Dermia deliberately tried to walk more provocatively.  Because of this (and because of the wine she had), she ended up losing her balance slightly and scraped her arm on a fence with a jagged splinter of wood sticking out tearing the sleeve of her designer lookalike blouse.

When she arrived at the school, Grace was sitting on a bench outside chatting away with Miss Price and holding her drawing carefully in front of her. She saw her mother arriving and stood up with a huge grin and ran to her.

“Mummy!”

“Hi Grashe, sorry Um late,” her still tipsy mother said.

“That’s okay Mummy, you’re here now!”

Miss Price scowled slightly at Dermia.

“Will you be driving Grace home?” she asked.

“Oh no, weesh only lif around the corner,” answered Dermia.

“Would you like to come into the classroom so we could discuss Grace’s first day?” Miss Price was no fool and she wanted to ascertain whether it was safe to send Grace home with her mother in the condition she was in.  Dermia agreed to come in.  Although she was a bit tipsy she was aware enough to realize what Miss Price had realized.

They walked into the classroom and sat at the small desks.

“So tell me about your first day at preschool!” Derma said smiling at Grace and trying to appear the doting mother once more.

“I made this for you Mummy!”

“What is it?”

“It’s a picture of someone I love very very much!”

Dermia studied the picture.  It was a picture of a rather gangly figure with several arms and legs.

“Who is it?” asked Dermia confused.

“It’s you Mummy!”

“Why do I have so many arms and legs?  People only have two arms and two legs each Grace.”

“Sometimes when you exercise and dance you move so fast it looks like you have lots of arms and legs.  Also sometimes you are so busy you can’t help me or hug me.  You have sooo much you are always doing.  But see that red thing there in the middle?  That’s your heart because I know you still love me even though you are very busy a lot.”

Dermia’s eyes welled up with tears.  “Oh Grace, I am sorry I am so busy sometimes.  Does it make you sad?”

“We-e-ll, a bit,” Grace said tentatively. “But it’s okay mummy because you are very very pretty and you are sometimes sad because there’s no daddy and I love you…THIS much!”

Grace held out her arms wide. Dermia hugged her daughter.

“I do apologise Miss Price for being late picking up Grace.  I can assure you, I won’t let that happened again.”

Miss Price smiled and could see that Grace’s mother was relatively sober and it would be safe to let Grace walk around the corner with her mother.

“I understand that sometimes business meetings can run late,” Miss Price responded tactfully.  “Please do try to not allow that to happen too often as it is hard on both children and staff alike.”

Dermia took Grace’s hand and walked slowly and remorsefully home.  She realized that she had been taking Grace for granted.  She realized that Grace is a beautiful and loving child who loves her unconditionally and that she was lucky to have her.  Dermia vowed to actively love and care for her child more and to never be too busy to spend time with her and to hug her.

Who is Grace?  Grace is the One who gives because of Love alone.  Grace doesn’t say I am for you because you earned my time, my gifts or my love.  Instead Grace says, ‘Here is my heart because in spite of what you put out, I see you.  Here are my hands ready to serve you and to help you because in spite of how little you give me, I value you.  Here are my arms wanting to embrace you even though so many others deem you unworthy.  I know you and you are not unworthy to me.  I am here for you even though you don’t yet know how to love fully and you don’t always see me.’

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

The Purpose Of Christian Meditation

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What is the purpose of Christian meditation? Have you ever wondered if it is even a viable option for Christians to meditate? Many people look towards meditation in different ways and for different reasons. For example some people look toward meditation as a form of stress relief. While others want to train the mind to become more focused.  Meditation does offer these benefits but it offers something even more for those who have a relationship with God.  When we meditate, our focus turns inward.  We observe our breathing and/or manta if we use one and we become still.  Inevitably, with a bit of practice, we begin to experience ourselves through our own spirit.  Our mind and body temporarily seizes to be  obstacles.  We no longer see and experience things so acutely on a conscious level through or mind and ego but through our spirit (our real self).  In other words, we cease to see our spirit as a third person but instead we experience consciousness through our spirit.  John Mains says that our spirit is “our life-line with the spirit of God.” From the seat of our spirit, we are brought into the presence of God where there is joy and bliss.  We experience God’s love directed towards us, filling all the empty regions of our being and at times, if we allow it, filling us to over-flowing so that we have no choice but to go out in love.  We become vessels of love.  We become more joyful givers.  We become…light-bearers. The more we discipline ourselves to meditate regularly, the more we grow into our real selves and into love. We become more aware of ourselves as spirit and wherever we go, we feel the spirit of God’s love with us and encouraging us to love those we  come into contact with. This is our deepest calling.  To love God and to love others the way God loves us (to the extent we are able to); to become more and more one with God; to grow into a being of love.

Many Christians get stuck in love’s polar opposite which is fear.  It is because of fear that many Christians decide not to meditate.  They feel meditation is either a new-age practice or a practice stemming from Eastern religion.  Yet for centuries, many Christians have practised meditation as a discipline for growth and to become closer to God.  Still other Christians mistake meditation for contemplation or biblical contemplation.  Contemplation is another important discipline altogether, one which I highly recommend.  If time is available, it would be invaluable to have a combined session of meditation and contemplation where either one proceeds the other.  In the bible we read, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Without the practice of stillness before God, it is difficult to grow in the fruits of the spirit which are love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control. You would only be going in your own strength. Yet with God, all things are possible. (Matt: 19:26) Have you ever tried to love others only to have your ego get in the way? However, when you are filled with love because you have been spending time in the presence of God, loving others becomes an effortless joy. It is love for Love’s sake alone.  no strings attached.  God is Love. Meditation is the way we begin to abide in Him. We become more attune to His voice. We gain more clarity of His purpose for us.  He embraces us and points the way. With practice, we find that even when we are not meditating at that moment, we are aware of Him.  Our attention is on Him throughout the day.  We are aware of His presence and we feel Him leading us in love and joy.

 

A Weapon To Let Go Of

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I humbly believe that one of the reasons that Christians are often sneered at is because of how some of them make use of the word ‘sin’.  In fact, I have seen Christians judge other Christians on their ‘sins’ while still other Christians judge those Christians who judge and then sin themselves.  Even I cringe when I hear the word ‘sin’ use as a weapon to judge others.  I confess, I went through a period where I found it difficult to even call myself a Christian.  I didn’t want those who weren’t Christians to come to some conclusions about what I was about based on their experience with Christians of the judging kind.

To be fair, pretty much everybody judges sometimes.  If you don’t believe me think of the times you may have been leafing through a magazine looking at photos and saying to yourself,

‘She’s pretty.’ 

or

‘Wow, she let herself go!’

or even,

‘Are they using ugly models now?’

Or how about the judging of cultures such as,

‘Eskimos eat whale blubber? Gross!’

The important thing I feel is that non-judgementalism is a skill that needs to be practised while inhabiting an attitude of love.  If one has an active relationship with God, this should become easy.

The good news is that not all Christians are frigid in their acceptance of people or have misconceptions of what sin is.  However, I think we all need to be aware of our attitudes consistently so we don’t fall back into the spirit of judgmentalism which includes the judging of ourselves which can be detrimental in so many ways.

What Sin Isn’t

So let’s look at what sin isn’t.  Sin is not two people in a committed relationship who love each other and decide to live together without legalizing it with a marriage document.  Sin is not same sex partnerships.  Sin is not going against your parent’s wishes to become a doctor because you strongly feel you were born to be an artist.  Sin is not about what food you eat.  Sin is not being too shy or too flamboyant.  Sin isn’t whether you drink or smoke.  Sin isn’t how you spend your money.  I can go on but I feel it is important to clarify by discussing…

What Sin Is

Sin is an attitude of the heart.  Sin is also about hurting others or ourselves.  We can understand the attitudes of our own hearts if we try but it is difficult to detect the attitude in someone else’s.  All the above examples of what sin isn’t can in fact be sin depending on what the root attitude is.  For example with the couple living together or the same sex partnership , one may be in love and committed to the relationship while the other may be a user.  The daughter of the parents who want her to be a doctor may choose to go to Art college not because that is who she is but just because she wants to rebel. Deliberately eating meat in front of a Vegetarian in a revolting way to annoy them is a sin.  Being shy because you have decided you don’t like people and don’t want anything to do with others can be a sin.  Being flamboyant because you are attention seeking and don’t care about the feelings of others is a sin.  Drinking excessively when you know you often become violent when you do is a sin, etc.

However…

We cannot be sure of the attitudes of others.  A flamboyant person may not be attention seeking but just trying to hide their insecurity.  We need to bear in mind that we all sin and we all have good intentions sometimes.  We especially need to bear in mind that a person may be doing something wrong without realizing it because their life’s experiences have led them on the road to have different conclusions on things.  It is our job to love and accept others unconditionally. When we judge others in a negative way, it is hurting ourselves and the other person therefore we are in fact sinning.  There is a place for admonishing but that comes only with wisdom and a strong relationship foundation and openness within both parties.

Drilling For Geysers

I am a firm believer that real authentic love is something that one needs to tap into and practice regularly  for it to become a natural part of who we are.  Argue with me if you wish but I think when we are young, we tend to be ‘me’ centered.  We love our parents when they demonstrate love towards us or when they give us what we want and we down-right feel we hate them when they don’t give us what we think we really want.  When we begin to have a loving relationship with a partner of the opposite sex, we give that significant person all kinds of acts of love.  Nothing is too big to give to them while we have all this ‘love energy’ we get from being in love.  After awhile, the extreme high of being in love fades down to basic love and that basic love is the love we have learned to practice thus far.  We may become more demanding and indignant that the other person is not so happy with us either.  If we haven’t done so by now, this is the time we need to focus on how we can fully and authentically love our spouse, or our children or any other relationship we have.  Sometimes we may think we are doing okay in giving or showing love to others but in fact, we may be falling short.  Love is like an geyser within ourselves that we can always drill a bit deeper in order to strike it.  If you can picture a geyser, then you can imagine that it is pretty near impossible to hold it back.  Love like that can become almost effortless. However, it is the drilling that takes work.

 

I also find myself still amazed at just how transformative love can be for both the giver and the recipient.  There have been times in my life where I have come across people who are hardened, tense or negative–the kind of people that makes other people feel tense just by being around them.  During such times, I offered them love in the way of support, empathy and a listening ear.  The result has been that their negativity tempered down some, their features and their voice softened and the respect I gave them was reciprocated.  Likewise, I felt more kindness, empathy and respect towards them.  What I initiated was not exactly natural at first but soon became natural.  I drilled deep.  I allowed their negative comments to past over me and believed that deep inside that person is a person like me who may just have seen some hard times.  Both of us were transformed and our relationship with each other was improved.  Although this has happened a few times, the transformation never fails to amaze me each time.

It reminds me of a few bible verses such as:

Love never fails

Love conquers all

Perfect love casts out fear

So if you have a problem with someone, love them!  Drill into the source of your real loving self and see what happens.

Namaste

Strengthening Our Inner Potentiality

Image Source

Image Source

Pure Potentiality

No matter who you are, what disabilities you may have been born with or acquired later in life, whether you were born into loving families or abusive ones, there is one fact which is true for all of us.  We were born with potential.  Every one of us has the potential to be successful in life.  By successful I mean creating your life in a way that brings you happiness and fulfilment. Being successful also means you have learned to love and receive love in return.  Jesus said there are two commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbour as He loves us.  (Luke 10:27) When we do, we receive love in return and become filled with joy and the love and joy expands outwards to others. However, in order to love everyone and to love purely, we must learn to do so. We have this potential.  It is in our make-up.  We are created in love with the innate potential to love. Love and Happiness then become our muse and inspire us to do greater things.

Show him the door

Yet, sometimes we fall into despondency and despair when terrible things happen.  The ability to love can often become hindered when we ourselves are raised without love.  If we were raised by overly critical or contemptuous parents, we learn to hate ourselves.  Some of us may have learned self-hate in the school-yard even though we may have had loving parents. For others it may be that we slowly start to dislike ourselves when we have experienced some form of perceived failure or have been criticized by others in the workplace when we are adults.  Sadly, we each have an inner voice which harshly judges us. If we listen, this voice grows louder.  This voice hinders us from being our best.  The voice tells us  we can’t succeed or we are unlovable or unattractive or not smart enough.  The good news is that potentiality is still within us.  It is only dormant.  In order to awaken our potential, we have to silence the Accuser (that judging voice inside us).  When we start to think negatively about ourselves, recognize it for what it is, a judging voice that will hinder our goals in life and come in-between our relationships.  This voice does not speak the truth. It is the voice of the Accuser.  If the Accuser was a real person and just walked into your room right now and began to berate you and put you down, what would you do?  Would you tell him that he is so right and then break down crying?  What would you rather do?  Think about it.  Personally, if someone came into my home and started to talk to me that way, I would show him the door.  I would let him know that he is not welcome here.  We can do the same when our negative thoughts appear.  We can (inwardly) tell it to shut up and go away and then replace the negative judging thoughts with thoughts of affirmation.  This works because all successes begin with love.  You have to love yourself enough to  want to change your thought patterns.  We can then move forward in life.

Send in the Cavalry!

Now, to be fair, this isn’t always easy.  For one thing, it takes some practice.  Another thing is that sometimes you have more than one accuser in your head.  You may have a whole market place of accusers who are all yammering at once, making you feel pretty unconfident.  In a scenario like this, you will need to pray (Mark9:29) and you may have to implement more than one strategy to silence them all.  In some cases, this may require help with a Therapist or Spiritual Mentor.  Another very effective way is to use meditation to focus on statements of affirmation.  The more positive thoughts about yourself you bring into your inner market place, the more negative thoughts begin to leave.  (Picture an old Western town where the guys in black hats have taken over the town but then the cavalry turns up and the guys in the black hats are chased away on horse-back).  I will be posting a meditation example for this type of inner walk later this week.  The thing to remember is not to allow yourself to despair and realize that you can succeed in turning around your thinking process.

 

One Life Three Births

Three Births

“I remember you from the future.”  What an odd thing to say…yet odder still that the words resonated.  On some strange level, the words felt true to me.  A truth deeper than understanding.  More loving than, “Will you marry me?” Perhaps even more loving than,  “I love you.”  The words have since been kept filed away in my heart for they were spoken to me by my future husband.

Today, as I began my morning meditation, the words came into mind and I followed to see where these words would  take me.  When I did, I realized I was now saying them to God.  ‘I remember you from the future.’  The words spoken unconsciously from my spirit were words of love while my mind responded in wordless questions. I was then reminded about a conversation I had with my husband Jim not too long ago.  I told him I had this sense that I knew God before I was born.  Although I had in the past always believed life began at conception,  lately I have had the sense that I have known God before.  How else did I know something was missing?  How else did I recognize God when I met Him?  When these words came into my heart this morning, I wondered as I have often wondered over the years,  what is time?  Is it as we experience it?  Is it linear?  Is time the same for us as it is for God?  And now I wondered, does our spirit experience time differently and perhaps that is why I remembered God from the future?

My thoughts were then led to life.  I followed. We are born into this world.  We are (hopefully) spiritually re-born.  When we die, it is another birth again.  Many people who have had near-death experiences talk about going through a dark tunnel and seeing a light at the end of it.  For the first time, it occurred to me how similar that sounds to a baby being born.  To many of us, the word death seems to have awful connotations, a finality to it.  This morning, I realized that death is our third birth.  Our first birth…the physical one was full of intensity.  Light and sound.  Pain and hunger.  Fear and nurture. Our second birth…the spiritual re-birth we experience when we are awakened and find God (again) is full of the newer experiences of peace and love.  Joy and bliss.  Gratitude and faith.  It is in one respect a step up from our physical birth.  With spiritual re-birth, our physical side…our mind…our psyche or ego connects with our spiritual side.  We feel more wholeness.  So if death is a third birth, we have nothing to fear and every reason to look forward to it.  It is a furthering of our life with greater wholeness, greater intensity of experience, greater joy and bliss.

 

Love Without Fear

I arrived back home last Saturday after visiting two of my precious grown-up children (and my future son-in-law).   I also got to see my parents, one of my brothers and one of my closest friends since elementary school.  The trip was a blessing and a success because it was an opportunity to give love and receive love.  It was hard to leave my children but I have family and friends here too.  My heart is over-flowing as I write this.  I am very blessed.

My mom, me, brother Dennis, daughter Brittany and son Dustin

My mom, me, brother Dennis, daughter Brittany and son Dustin

Namaste is a beautiful word in Sanskrit that is commonly used as a greeting and as a goodbye when people are parting in the Southern part of Asia.  It is translated as ‘I bow to you’ but I have also known it to be translated as ‘The divine in me bows to the divine in you.’ For me personally though perhaps inaccurately, I tend to believe it means something much more profound.  I think of it as meaning something more along the lines of, ‘My spirit truly sees your spirit’ or ‘My spirit sees the beauty of your true self’.  The reason I guess is that there have been times when I instinctively recognize or know someone without any information about the person.  Sometimes, I just have a strong and good feeling about a person and the feeling has always shown to be true.  I think we all have this instinct sometimes in our lives but some may have stronger instincts than others. I wish we all had strong spiritual instincts about people because in this day and age, people do not often feel comfortable having their deep, personal, real selves on show.  We fear being rejected.  While it is so much easier to be rejected for shallow things like say our taste in music, it is much harder to have our real self rejected.  Our real self…our spirit…is the part of us that is pure potentiality that we are still growing into.  If we are rejected while on our journey, it could be devastating.  However, seeing others for who they are is a blessing received.  It is often how life-time friendships and partnerships begin.

Namaste after yoga class.  Photo source

Namaste after yoga class. Photo source

To be a fearless giver of love is also a blessing received.  I am learning more and more that LOVE disperses FEAR.  I am finding myself more and more in awe of how true this is and how the giving of love strengthens one’s relationship with God as well as strengthens you as a person.  I am no longer afraid of being rejected if I have given love to someone with the fullness of my heart.  I will love anyway.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t be sad if I am rejected.  Of course it would hurt but loving is worth the risk.

The practice of love is something that comes from some well deep within one’s spirit.  It is not something that is forced or fake.  It is something that one taps into.  For me…. it has happened through my relationship with God and through meditation.  I received God’s love, kept it in my heart and reached out to others in love and then it simply became effortless.  I am awed by it and see it as something beyond me.  However, love is more than just a feeling.  True love always sees the person and their potential.  True love never judges.  True loves always perseveres.  True love always grows. The hard part is knowing which way to give love to individuals in different individual circumstances.  The ‘how’ of love in practice is what I am still learning.

Namaste

What is a REAL Parent?

I leave on Saturday for a two week visit to New York.  While I am there I will be mainly spending time on my two children.  My visit is one of love.  Sometimes a statement like that may appear simple and easy to gloss over.  Sometimes a statement particularly one about love has a much more profound resonance to it.

My visit is one of love.

realmothering

Brianna, Dustin, Me, Brandon

The fact that love is simple does not mean it is small or insignificant.  I will always remember these words spoken to me by a loving mother, “There is nothing like a mother’s love.”  Once I became a mother I knew the words were profoundly true.  It isn’t the greatest love there is but I think it may be the greatest human love there is.  Yet, while I write this I am aware of several facts.  I am aware that some people would disagree.  I am aware that some men would say that fatherly love is just as strong.  I am aware that some would vehemently argue that just because one is a mother or a father doesn’t mean that they instantly love their children.  I am so sadly aware of those who have had a ‘mother’ in the sense that they lived with one who gave birth to them but they in fact were not loved.  It is a fact that often tortures my mind because I cannot get my head around it.  It was hard enough to understand this before I was a mother but I found it impossible to understand it once I became a mother.  How??  All of my experience, facts, logic of what I tend to think I know about the world…about mental illness suddenly disappears as I cannot conceive of a fact that some children are cruelly treated by their own mothers.  That some children are mistreated…abused…tortured in body and spirit.  How does it happen?  I don’t have a degree in psychology.  I also don’t think that having a degree in psychology or mental illness will help me understand what would cause a ‘mother’ to do unspeakable things.

In past posts I have shared about my idea of ‘being real’.  I have written about becoming real when I wrote ‘When We Become Real’ and I wrote about ‘Being REAL in Sibling Relationships’ but what makes a REAL parent?  Who do we call Mother or Father or Mommy or Daddy?  There is a time perhaps when we are small where we are made to call our parent one of these or similar titles but once we are adults many will only continue to call their parents one of these titles if the parents have earned the right in the child’s eyes to be called so.

There are others too who raise children as their own though they are not biologically theirs.  These amazingly special people truly earn the right to be called Mom and Dad because they LOVE.  They love in spirit and in action.  They nurture, listen, teach, help, comfort, feed, clothe, go out of their way to make special memories for them, work hard and then spend most of their wages on them, pick them up from parties when they are feeling too tired to drive, advise them, entertain them at their birthday parties,  confer with their teachers about them and pray for them….These parents always see the child’s true potential.  They take the time to know them.  They forgive every outburst and naughty action because forgiveness is a huge part of love.  These REAL parents never give up on them.  These real parents never stop loving them.  These real parents also model real love to them.  They plant a seed of genuine loving kindness within their children which grows and expands.  It is the greatest gift one can impart to a child….the expansive gift of love and knowledge of how to love.

puppet

My husband Jim entertaining at Brianna’s birthday party

Loving others may not always come easy to all of us.  If we weren’t given love, then love is not something that is easy to tap into.  Joyfully, it is not impossible.  It can be tapped into and if you persevere with learning how to love, it grows and expands.  Never believe that you already know how to love.  There is no plateau to love.  Keep trying…keep growing…the love grows and the joy of loving grows with it.  Do not believe the lie that you will get hurt therefore you mustn’t love in order to protect yourself.  Love is worth the hurt it sometimes brings.  In time, you will find that no one can hurt you.  Love has grown bigger within you than the fear of being hurt.   With God, it becomes easier.  Oh?  Haven’t you heard that God IS love?  Another simple statement that is not so small.  The truth is deeper than the simplicity of how it reads.

God IS love.

Note: While I am away, I will taking a hiatus from blogging.  I will return about the second week of April.