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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Decision to Love

Photo Credit:  Penywise at

The other day, my youngest daughter and I went for a walk (she’s 3 months shy of 4 years old, but she asks questions like she’s 14!).  I pushed her in the stroller while she ate snacks and asked me random questions.  This is how the conversation went:

“How long do you think you’ll live, Mom?”  (gulp)
“I’m not sure, but I guess it’s up to Jesus,” I replied.
“Well…Jesus lives in our heart, so lemme ask Him,” she said.
Then, as I peeked down through the clear plastic window at the top of the stroller shade, I saw her tilting her head down toward the left side of her chest.
She whispered, “So, what do you think, Jesus?”
I hope like heck He replied with, “A LONG, LONG time, my child.  Your momma will be around for a LONG, LONG time.”  (As I wipe the anxious sweat off my brow…ha ha!)

It must have been the week for deep thinking because she and I also had another equally as interesting conversation:

“Jesus is gooder because He gives us life, “she told me over lunch.
“Yes, that is so right, little girl, so, so right,” I replied.
“So, how many lives do we have, Mom?” she asked (obviously influenced by a Wii game).
“Just one, baby, so we have to make it count,” I answered.
“ONE?  Just ONE?!  I can’t believe it!” she responded, extremely perplexed.
“Can’t Jesus just give us more power if we die,” she inquired (another Wii game influence and she doesn't even play that often!)
“Yes, honey, He does give us more power, but that comes when we get to heaven,” I said.
“Hmmmm…I do love heaven.  We can eat all the candy we want there and we also get our wings.  I hope my wings are pink,” she innocently replied.
“Me, too, sweetheart, me too,” I responded.

I love these intimate little conversations with my children.  I love that they talk to me.  I love that these moments sprinkle my days so I don’t focus and dwell on the negative things.  I hope my children always know that they can talk to me about anything and that I will always be there for them.  I hope they know how completely I love them.

As Matthew Kelly reminds me in his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, “Don’t just hope…decide!  Great relationships don’t come to those who hope for them.  Hope is worthless unless coupled with real effort.  Great relationships belong to those who decide to put in the effort and make them a priority.”  I think this goes for all relationships in our lives.  So, instead of hoping that my family knows I love them, I can decide to show them and make it happen…everyday.

I finished Kelly’s book recently and walked away with some wonderful insight into intimacy and relationships.  Kelly says, “There is a great deal more to intimacy than the miracle of physical love.  Intimacy is the most enchanting of adventures, at once both exhilarating and frightening.  Intimacy consists of knowing and understanding ourselves and the people we love.  When knowing and understanding evade us, intimacy consists simply in accepting ourselves and others for who we are and where we are in the journey, right now, today.”

I can’t think of many things in life that are more energizing than love.  It animates us and breathes new life into our lives.  As Kelly suggests, “The greatest power we possess is our ability to make people feel loved, and yet it is among the least used of human abilities.  We know how to love, we know how to put others before ourselves, we know how to bring happiness to the lives of other people, and when we focus on loving people, we have a certain glow; we feel better about ourselves and better about our lives.”  (Why on earth wouldn't we tap into this on a daily basis?!)

I want my husband and my children to know that I love them.  Kelly says that the greatest expression of love for others is to assist them in becoming the best-version-of-themselves®.  I’m in.  We know deep down inside what will make our spouse and children feel completely loved.  Are we doing those things day in and day out?  If we are…wonderful!  If we aren't, why not?  While I often fall short, I am thankful for reminders found in books like his.  Kelly raises great questions – ones that I will definitely take to heart. 

Kelly states, “Love is the only true currency in our often bankrupt world.  In the end, love is all that matters, love is all that you can take with you, and love is all that cannot be taken from you.”

Here is a love story I received in an e-mail that will hopefully touch you like it touched me:

“It was approximately 8:30 a.m. on a busy morning when an elderly gentleman in his eighties arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.  He stated that he was in a hurry, as he had an appointment at 9:00 a.m.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat.  I knew it would take more than an hour before someone would be able to tend to him.  I saw him check his watch anxiously and so I decided to evaluate his wound since I wasn't busy with another patient.

On examination, the wound was well healed.  Hence, I talked to one of the doctors to get the supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.  We began to engage in a conversation while I was taking care of him.  I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment later, as he was in such a hurry.  The gentleman told me no, but said that he needed to go to the nursing home to have breakfast with his wife.

I inquired about her health.  He told me that she had been in the nursing home for awhile as she was a victim of Alzheimer's disease.  I probed further and asked if she would be upset if he was slightly late.  He replied that she no longer knew who he was and she had not been able to recognize him since five years ago.

I asked him in surprise, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?’  He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is.’

I had to hold back my tears as he left.  I had goose bumps on my arm, and I thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life.’”

Man, I LOVE that story!  I get goose bumps, too, for several reasons.  For one, I thank God for my loving husband – one of the greatest gifts that He’s ever given me.  Secondly, I pray that my children know that kind of love if or when they marry one day.   And finally, I get chills knowing that that IS the kind of love that God has for us, right now, right here…today.  We may not always recognize Him, but He knows who we are.

Thank you, Lord, that love is not just a feeling, because our feelings can change with the tides.  I am forever thankful for God’s Almighty wisdom in allowing love to be a decision.  We can’t just continue to hope that our family and friends know that we love them.  We have to decide.  We have to decide to tell them and show them.  Every.  Single.  Day.

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