By Naifa White
February is often referred to as the month for lovers. So when we think of Valentine’s Day, most of us don’t initially think of our children. We think of our husband, wife, significant other or our lack thereof. But clearly, love is far more than just romance, whispered sweet nothings and chocolate. Love is multidimensional. Just as a diamond’s cut, size and clarity determine its value, so our love for others should be; ever-growing, unclouded, vibrant and beautiful!
When our precious little ones were first ushered into this world we stood in awe of their beauty. Oh, the wonder that they were finally here! Their little hands, tiny feet and rose bud lips…Precious. But as they grew and developed, their little pitter-patter became stomps of defiance and their coos became roars of annoyance in our busy lives. Their tantrums, demandingness or over-dependence gradually caused us to re-evaluate our capacity to love and to be perfect parents.
Some exceeded our greatest expectations while others clearly challenged us. So, how can we still ascribe favorable attributes to a child that our heart does not understand and embrace them as “perfectly different”? How can we learn to love the unlovable qualities and embrace the characteristics that are so unfamiliar to us?
In a world where the words ADHD, oppositional defiant, learning disabled, special needs, medically fragile (preemies) and strong-willed are often thrown around like confetti, it is devastating when this reality hits home. Not only must we consider how the world will view our child but often we must grapple with our own feelings. What can we do when the object of our affection doesn’t fit into the cookie-cutter mold?
Love truly has the potential to heal the most damaged soul as well as break us into a million fragile pieces. So surely we must become familiar with this phenomenon. The same is true for our children. Regardless of their strengths and even inadequacies we must choose to love. That is unconditional love; love and acceptance despite their performance, supporting them despite our weariness and seeking their best despite their seeming apathy.
When fighting for a life it requires your full-on commitment. It demands that you draw from a strength that is not your own and that you learn to see each person (including your child) as valuable based on who they are (a child of God) not on what they do (performance), how they look (external beauty) and what others say (external opinions). All of these factors fluctuate and are not a sound foundation to build a love that will last a lifetime.
We all need love that is relentless and persistent. So, when you possess this kind of love for your child, parent or anyone else, your love has been perfected! Your heart is no longer cluttered by the pride, lies and inflexible expectations of selfishness. You’ve learned to love that person fully. Once you can treat others as you’d like to be treated, your love grows deep roots that can withstand the winds, waves and storms of life. Fickleness retreats and an unshakeable love and commitment emerges! Do you have that kind of love? If not, what steps must you take to attain it? Also, consider who will be the object of your love. A select few or everyone you meet?
Perfected love is a beautiful thing. Receive it and extend it!!