Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To Love or To Be Loved

I have been pondering on love all day today and the one question that keeps repeating itself in my mind is: Is it easier to love or to be loved? Is it easier to be the lover or the loved? While I haven't come to a definitive conclusion, I'm pretty strongly leaning toward saying that they are equally easy, and equally hard. Each has it's own responsibilities and emotions. Yet, you can not separate the two. It is an intriguing notion to me, but as I said, not one I have completely worked out yet. So please bear with me if this post seems to ramble and meander a bit.

The Bible tells us that we are to love. In fact, doesn't everybody know the verse from 1 Corinthians above? Here it is in its entirety:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:4-13)

To love someone requires that I be patient, kind, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering. To love someone means I am not to envy, boast, be proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, or keeping a record of wrongs. Wow! That truly is quite an undertaking. How many times a day I fail at this! Loving someone is hard work, especially when they are being (or we feel they are being) unloving. If I can love my children the way the Bible commands me to when they are underfoot all day, being sneaky or disruptive, imagine what a blessing that would be for them and for me. If I can love my husband in the same way, not only would it make my God-ordained role as helpmeet easier, it would also bless us both considerably, and be a powerful legacy for our children. I hate to admit how much of a struggle this can be at times. I need to engrave these words on my heart and carry them with me always.
Now, those are the easiest examples for us to encounter our duties to love on a daily basis. But to take it one step further, we need to remember that these criteria of love also apply to all of God's children; the saved and the unsaved, the nice old man who warmly comments on our beautiful children and the snotty woman who checks us out at the library and rolls her eyes at our children and scoffs at homeschooling. We are commanded to love all of these people. For me it is actually easier to feel this type of love for strangers or acquaintances that are being unloving than it is my family. I suppose it is true to a degree that familiarity can breed contempt.

Let's look at the other side of this love equation - to be loved. To be loved brings with it a whole other slew of requirements and necessities that are often overlooked, if they are recognized at all. It is so easy to get trapped in the mindset of, "Well if these person really loves me then my bad habits, unloving actions, and disparaging words shouldn't matter." While some of this is true to an extent, I know I need to remind myself that only God loves me fiercely enough to be able to overlook my repeated sin, disrespect, and temper. If I want my husband to truly love me the way the Bible commands then I owe him the daily effort of doing my best to deserve his love. If I want my children to love me this same way, I owe them a mama who is at least always striving to be someone better. If I want that woman at the library to love me, I need to show her love first, and not in a condescending, holier-than-thou, way. (Or I need to figure out her work schedule and just make sure we are not checking out when she is working the circulation desk. But that may be a little off topic.)

God's love is the only guaranteed love. All of the others require an equal amount of work for both parties. I think we should make this vow to our husbands, our children, our extended family, our friends, our enemies: I am willing to work at loving you and being loved by you every single day of my life. After all, love evolves over time and goes through so many different stages. It is in a constant state of flux and we need to accept that what works today may not work tomorrow. (While I am writing this, I am thinking of marriage first and foremost, but here is an easily understandable example with children. Is there any better way to express your love for a one year old than to bounce them on your hip, toss them in the air, or blow raspberries on their stomachs? They are ecstatic at these outpourings of love. Now, try doing that in 12 years. See, love is constantly changing.) A commitment to a willingness to work acknowledges that love changes and that to love and to be loved require an equal share of work through all stages of life.

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Vickie 11:38 PM  

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment. To answer your question about how do I train them to put them is a process.

When they were younger they could not get the scissors out without assistance and they could not reach the basket I used.

Now that they are older and we have tried to teach responsibility for putting away items but we still have a hard time and find the scissors other places.

What we have done lately, and it has worked pretty good, is we fine them an amount for not putting things back where they belong. At this stage they do not want to have to pay someone else their hard earned money. It teaches them that if they have a library book that is overdue...we will not pay the teaches them to become responsible.

It may sound silly but I thought of it when I heard my brother fines his teens when they do not bring the trash cans back up to the garage after trash day. He said it does not matter whose day it is....someone in the home (three kids, two older girls and one sixth grade boy)needs to bring the cans back up on trash day, regardless of whose day it is. It teaches them to be unselfish and to care for one another which at times is hard for siblings.

I remember Barbara Mandrell, the country singer, talking about how if her children did not pick up their rooms or they left things around the house she would go each day with a black garbage bag and retrieve each item and give it away or throw away. I have heard others keeping it in the garage for a week or so until the child was looking for it.

I have wanted to do that but money was tight and we did not have unlimited resources like the two people that I read who did this and I just could not bear to throw things out like tennis shoes etc.

However, I have taken things and put them away and when they come looking for them they have had to wait a certain amount of time before getting them back.

They learn pretty quickly to pick up....but once they become starts all over again. Hate to say it but they are just big preschoolers at times when it comes to cleaning their rooms. It passes but boy is it frustrating!

A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

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