Love is one of those emotions that we are unable to explain. A dictionary can try to define it though words are simply inadequate. The biological responses we have when we are around someone we love are indescribable. Sometimes what we feel is so strong that we can’t even handle the feelings. The mixture of happy and sad and fear and joy and confusion. All rolling around in our heads and hearts until we can’t contain ourselves. It is amazing how closely love and hate are intertwined. In time we can take it for granted. Or perhaps we move from one type of love to another. Just a normal transition in our lives. We love our parents. Even if they were never good parents, we love them. The first people to care for us. Their role is to protect us and keep us from harm. Teach us what we need to know as we grow older. One day we need to leave the nest and care for ourselves. Sometimes the love we hold is simply a familiar attachment. Staying in a relationship that is abusive or not healthy emotionally. Fear of the unknown is stronger than fear of abuse. Living with our parents too long can stunt us or it can be the comfort we need to make our way in the world. One thing I have learned is that love is always changing. It is a moving living thing that has a life of its own. It has more control over our lives than we can possibly imagine. Without it we miss some of the greatest gifts that life has to offer. Love teaches us lessons in compassion, humility, kindness, caring, gentleness and support. In our dualistic world there is a yin for every yang. Love also teaches us about fear, anger, hostility, pride, envy and control. Love is the greatest as the bible teaches us in Corinthians chapter 13. Without knowing love, we know nothing.
As a child I was blessed. I felt love. Through my Farmor (fathers mother), my parents and my siblings I felt love. What I really felt was actually a feeling of safety and contentment. Happiness and security. The people who made these feelings possible were the ones I was drawn to. Being held close in a hug or cuddling in a rocking chair was like a warm bath. My parents loved me. They held me close. My Farmor gave the gift of God. Her faith and love of God was given to me through lessons and talks. Always God was kind and wonderful and I was so special to him. As my sister read to me I felt awe. She led me into the magic of books. Without her gifts the magic was missing. A book withheld its stories from my young mind. When she taught me to read she opened up my world. To me her love was given as knowledge. Teaching me math. How to tell time. All about money. How to read. Her love opened up the world. I used to sit with a book and move my eyes left and right over the pages waiting for the magic to jump out. This is how I saw my siblings. Holding a book and turning pages as they let their eyes drift back and forth. She brought me the missing piece. The older brothers were a mystery until I became an adult. Their love reached me as I aged and they guided me from their own experiences. Of course I was a bit of a mystery to them as well. Their love was shown by acceptance. A teenaged sister was something of an enigma for men in their thirties with wives and small children. Especially one who tested the boundaries quite often. I was a married woman before I truly got to know my older brothers. I entered their world and was an accepted member. My youngest brother was four years older and although we were the only two at home for many years, I was not part of his life until my late teens. I was the thorn in his side as a small child. He taught me the love hate relationship of close siblings. It took many years to understand his side of the relationship. Even now we have a distance. Yet in my darkest hour he reached out as only family can. As only love can. Love doesn’t have to be shown every minute of every day. My Dad always said he loved the child the most who needed it the most. It changed from day to day. A wise man my father.
As a young girl I felt love so strong and deep I thought my heart would break. When the object of my love strayed I felt trust fade away. What is love without trust? It is nothing. I tried to forgive and forget. Time made it clear I had to move on. My love had died. I do not trust easily nor do I give my heart on a whim. Rene’ was in my life at a young age although it was as my friends older brother. That beautiful friend who loved without condition. Always acceptance. Rene’ and I didn’t really notice each other. At first. We crossed paths often until the day we started walking through life together. That walk was all over the map. Footprints walking close, side by side. Sometimes away from each other. Sometimes stomping on each other and then so close that only one set is seen. The love between a man and a woman can be the most beautiful love. In time two people who start out as individuals become more and more the same person. The change we see in our lovers as they come to know our ways is amazing. So much of who I am now is because of the love of my husband. He showed me other ways to see the world. Apart from the one I was shown as a child. It completes your education when you love someone enough to listen to them and learn from them. It is a two way street. To teach a man your ways and feelings and see him embrace those values can make your heart burst with love. When you accept each other, warts and all, only then can you fully know love.
Loving a child is the strongest emotion a parent can feel. It hurts at times. From day one you make decisions with only them in mind. You make sacrifices for them. You sometimes chose poorly for yourself because you think it is best for them. There is always a fear that you are doing something wrong. Each child is different. It truly is a guessing game but in the end love is the only constant you can offer. It will follow them forever even if the physical or emotional distance is great. The seeds of love you plant in a child are not just to be bounced back to you They are planted in order to help your children to love others who come into their lives. It is a gift from God to be granted the opportunity to learn from loving a child. The lessons we receive are endless. The first time a child turns away from you is the worst pain a parent can feel. It may be when they are five, fifteen or thirty five. There comes a time when they need to distance themselves from the parent child bond and seek out love and acceptance from the world. The transition is hard on both sides. One only hopes that in time the bond will grow again. The greatest gift you can give a child is freedom to go forward and find love elsewhere. It is also the greatest sacrifice a parent can make. It is truly a lesson in letting go. Our children are not ours. They are not possessions. They have been entrusted to us to nurture and teach. Sadly we must let them go. To hold on tight only hurts them. It stifles their growth. It is selfish.
And finally, watching your child love a child. I admit that each time one of my children is pregnant and giving birth, I am afraid. I am afraid to lose my child. My thoughts are not on their baby but rather on my baby. I was with both daughters when they had their first child. The fear I had with both was the same even though one progressed well and the other ended up with an emergency c-section. The greatest fear I had was with my youngest grandson. The second twin, he was not quite 5 pounds. He was so tiny and I prayed more for that child than any other. Now he runs around like crazy and beats on his older twin quite often. The love from a grandchild is so pure and sweet. As a Grandparent you have softened with time and life is not as serious. There is more time. Less judgement. You realize that in the end, nothing matters but love. To see the world come full circle as you watch your children interact with their children is amazing. It brings incredible insight and teaches us more about our own parents. Finally we can make sense of those people who raised us. The ones who brought us into this world. It often can bring sadness as you watch a grandchild move away from their parent. Trying to gain independence. You have felt that pain and it hurts to know your child will feel it as well.
I have learned that to love as a child would love is a blessing. It is unconditional. It is as pure as Gods love. One we should all strive for even though the chance of achieving it is almost impossible. To quote first Corinthians… “And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. And the greatest of these is Love.