Love. What a tiny looking word with such a weighted and complicated meaning. Prior to having kids or even getting married, I don’t think I really understood the depth needed to love. I hadn’t grasped the multi-faceted three-dimensional nature of love. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very loving family but see now that I took that for granted. My wonderful parents gave out in every way; their time, their words of encouragement, their affection, their hard-earned monetary gifts, and the endless amount of things they did for me. Love was there. I didn’t have to search for it.
You can see why, then, I struggled when we got married. My understanding of love was to receive so how did I show love? What? You mean you don’t just feel it? It’s not just a warm fuzzy feeling that makes you go all giddy? It was at this point I grew to hate chick flicks. They gave such a false impression of love. They suggested it was a mushy lovely feeling that is always there. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Love is something you have to work at. Even having come from a loving family it didn’t come naturally. I wonder, even now, in shame, how I showed my own family love. Marriage has certainly taught me about the self-sacrificial nature of love but having kids has extended my learning even more.
The thing that really gets me is the many different forms that love takes. You may be familiar with the 1 Corinthians 13 love. To this day I have not found a better description that can help me understand what love really is and therefore how to show it. There are so many parts which are needed at different phases of life and even different times of the day (take before bed for example…patience and slowness to anger are crucial!).
The other day I was overwhelmed by the sense of motherly love for Awena that words just don’t describe. Mummies out there may be able to relate to this. Looking at her little smiling face definitely made me go all mushy inside. In many ways, it can feel easy to love a newborn. They’re cute. They don’t answer you back. They don’t listen for the 60 millionth time. Sounds easy, right? But then there’s the screaming. And the sleepless nights. And then not knowing what they want etc which requires a different type of love. And then they grow up and start chucking a whole lot back at you. All of a sudden they’re not so cute and helpless and as they physically need less from us, we suddenly demand a lot from them. Probably too much. However, at the end of the day, when they’re asleep you look at them and that mushy feeling returns. And you question; why did I get so cross earlier? How did they manage to wind me up so much? And if you’re anything like me you go to bed feeling guilty that you haven’t shown love in the way you would like.
But love keeps no record of wrongs. Poppi is amazing at telling me she still loves me when I’ve messed up. (In fact, sometimes, that makes it feel worse!) Love is about commitment. It’s about getting up the next day and saying you’re going to give it your best shot again. It’s choosing to go out of your way or put the needs of others before your own. It’s not just about waiting to go weak at the knees, having heart palpitations and feeling all giddy. It’s so much more and it’s so worth pursuing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.