Six kids and I took over two tables in the donut shop that morning. The oldest boys were at rock climbing class for the next ninety minutes, and the rest of us did like we always did on those mornings: find somewhere to be. Somewhere Mom can stay sane, we can get a bit of school in, and the chance of a preschooler or two melting down is slim to none. The donut shop is one of our favorites because a) donuts, b) they’ll switch the TV channel to PBS Kids for us, c) it’s small, so I don’t need to accompany kids to the bathroom which is just a few feet away, and d) donuts.
After getting everyone settled and smiling that knowing smile at the onlookers who are wondering if we’re either a daycare or a little crazy, I head up to the glass case of deliciousness to make our choices.
The young gal was working. I like her. So friendly.
“I really like your necklace, but isn’t it on backwards? What does it say? LOVE?”
Reaching up to feel my necklace, I realized she was right. I’d worn it a whole day and a half with the LOVE on backwards. We joked about what it might say that way. OLEV. Also translated as I’ll leave. She had no idea how poignant that moment was. A perfect metaphor for my life right now. Sometimes my heart has a hard time staying constant in the love department because my love’s on backwards.
Most hearts don’t enjoy being trampled upon. I know mine doesn’t. That’s why offering unconditional love is such a tricky business.
A child’s misbehavior after misbehavior wears on a mama. Making it hard to give our hearts over and again when times get tough, only to have it crumpled up and handed back to us. But we must.
Because we are called to love. At all times. But it’s oh-so-hard. At least for me.
What I often forget, what we often forget, is that we aren’t called to love our children because it makes us happy or good, or because they deserve it. We’re called to love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Conditional love equals backwards love. Unconditional love sets it right.
Love, the kind that Jesus modeled, wasn’t influenced by the behavior of others. If it was, we’d all be done for. It was pure and unchanging. His kind of love doesn’t produce feelings of love for one of His children one moment and then push them away the next if they displease Him. His kind of love stays put.
This is the kind of love I want to give. And that’s convenient, because that’s the kind of love we’re called to give.
Freely. No matter what they do or say. Just LOVE.