I remember when I was that awkward teenager, embarrassed by my mom and hoping she wouldn’t come over to talk to me in front of my friends. I remember her sewing me a shimmery purple dress at age 15 and I was rude about actually wearing it out of the house. I remember hearing her words of advice but not really listening. I remember the 16th birthday charm bracelet she was so excited to give me, I was just ungrateful and not even nice.
I also remember in that same time period a Sunday evening in church when she handed me a little card. Again, embarrassed and ungrateful. Later in private I opened the card to read undeserved loving words of affirmation, as she told me how proud she was of me. Proud of me? I cried ugly tears.
LOVE SEES DIFFERENTLY
This life lesson has stayed with me long after I lost that little note, and lost my mother. I learned in that moment that love sees us through different eyes. She understood my embarrassment and even my rudeness; or she simply tolerated it. Or she just loved me in spite of it. Her love far surpassed my flaws. In what I consider my most undeserving moment, she gave me the gift that changed me. Love.
In my life I have often found the unconditional love of God almost hard to accept. I know myself best; how could He still love me? Maybe THIS will be the thing that turns Him away from me. But like my mother, love that is truly authentic is offered without conditions.
In being loved like that, THAT is what releases us to be ABLE to change and become better. Her telling me she was proud of me at my worst moment, made me want to BE that person she saw and knew I already was deep inside. God extending His love to me in my worst moments, makes me want to BE that person He sees and knows I am deep inside. Kindness fuels us to betterment. Love launches us into our best versions of ourselves.
“Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely.” (Psalm 139:1-4) God knows us fully and loves us completely.
In accepting this love, it will help us learn how to extend it to others. Wait. Accept it? Yes. Sometimes we simply can’t believe that this kind of love exists – that someone could fully be aware of who we are, right down to the nitty gritty of our soul’s deepest cave – and fully love us.
My mom telling me she was proud of me when I knew the hundred reasons she should not be, transformed my young heart. This taught me that love should never come with a check list but only ties of love. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:4)
REMEMBER WHO LOVES YOU
To win people over, basically you just need to love them. As is. You need to say ‘ I love you’ and put a period at the end. No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’. Just like how my mom ended her note of praise to me – I love you.
So if you have trouble with self love or in loving others who think/live/believe differently from you, just remember Who loves YOU. I asked a friend once how I should treat someone who absolutely had a completely different lifestyle than me, and I think I expected advice on what to say or do – or not say or do. She simply said these three words, which is now my mantra – “Just love ‘em.”
Thank you mom for believing in a confused, rude, messed up teenage girl – for seeing me fully and loving me completely. Thank you God for believing in a confused, broken, flawed human being – for seeing me fully and loving me completely. This love is the love I am now able to grant to others.
“Freely it (love) has been given to you ; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)