Humans have long tried to explain the meaning of love. There were cartoons built around the statement “Love is…” with possible answers such as “coffee with cream”… “a dog in the lap”…”an umbrella on a rainy day”…”a friend who shares their cookie”…or as demonstrated here, “snuggling with a favorite toy."
|Snuggling with squeaky toy.|
Our animal friends are good examples. You may have heard the admonition to be the kind of person that your dog thinks you are. That is pretty good advice. Our Schnauzer wants nothing more than to be with us and to please to us. He is playful when it is time to play. He is quiet, and in his place at our feet, when it is time for that. He offers us his obedience and loyalty whether we are in a good mood or bad, whether his bowl has dry dog food or a steak bone, as his demonstration of unconditional love for us.
As a mom, I think of the time before we even laid eyes on our son, yet we loved him. Motherhood, well, parenthood in general, is like that. Our love is not based upon appearance, or acts of kindness bestowed upon us, but simply the fact that they exist. We give them a name linked to ours, and teach them all we can, and watch them grow. We call it love.
I have friends whose children were born with severely restricted physical or mental abilities. These parents have given their children every bit of love, instruction, and care that we gave our son, and more. Much more. Their responsibilities will last far longer than ours. They have given up careers, time with friends, ability to go to social functions…and on and on. They do this out of a commitment we call love.
I know of a family who had a child with cerebral palsy who would be wheelchair bound, and very limited in ability to care for himself for the rest of his life. Unexpectedly, they had a second child. This child was born without disabilities. Knowing they had limited financial ability, time for caregiving, and could not properly care for both, they chose to allow one child to be placed into an adoptive home - the healthy child - who would have the best chance for being adopted. This way, they could give the first child the very best they possibly could. That is a sacrifice we call love.
I have family members who have gone through long term illnesses that robbed them of mobility and memory. We walked them through it with a patience we call love. We all have dealt with family with mental illnesses that cause them to react with hatred, yet we show them kindness in return. A kindness we call love.
Once a popular movie declared “love means never having to say you are sorry.” Well, I’m sorry, but the opposite is true. If we somehow hurt someone, we should both be sorry and express that regret. When we put their feelings above our own, it is a humility we call love.
If you have read Kisses, From Katie, or her blog katiedavis.amazima.org you have glimpsed into the eyes of sacrificial giving. This 18 year old high school homecoming queen left a home of privilege in Tennessee to go on a mission trip to Uganda. There she completed her mission, and came home. But, God wasn’t finished with her tender heart. She finished high school in the U.S. and returned to this country filled with danger, poverty, disease and children with nothing and no one. No one but her. She has adopted a number of the girls, but is commonly called “Aunt Katie” in the region. She has become family. She left behind the good life, for a great life. She exemplifies sacrificial giving.
I recently had a new Christian ask me “what is love?” My answer was that love is willing to give all. Jesus did that for us. He gave His very life as payment for a debt He did not owe. And He did it without any hope of being repaid. He simply did it out of love. So, having lived a little while, and having seen these demonstrations of love, I offer to you that love is not what we get, but what we give. Perhaps we could consider giving love, regardless of whether we receive it in return. Maybe we could put the other person’s best interest in higher regard than our own. What if we gave love no matter how much they deserve it, based on their actions toward us? Could we even give it to the point of sacrifice?
Father, we consider those who love without thought of whether they receive anything in return, and our thoughts turn to Your example. You loved us before You laid the foundation of the world. You planned and provided a means by which we could be with You in spite the fact that we do not deserve it. That plan caused You indescribable suffering and punishment that You did not deserve. No act of love here on earth has ever surpassed Your love for us.
Help us to love like You without thought of what we get in return. Let Your love so shine within us, that everyone around us sees You, full of sacrifice, humility, kindness and commitment.
For more faith-filled stories including a hummingbird I named Oscar read the first chapter here.
For the rest of our story, find Oscar on the following online retailers