Friday, April 11, 2014

5 Lessons My Children Taught Me About Love

Often, some of the best lessons we learn come from children - especially our own. These past few days, in the midst of a bit of family health issues, my children have managed to teach me some much needed lessons.

No problem is bigger than love: 

Those of you with kids understand - sometimes children (especially teens) make mistakes. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that sometimes teens make decisions that we, as parents, disagree with. This happened with my eldest a few weeks ago. And because of this decision, she and I were barely speaking to each other (we both tend to be a bit stubborn when we think we're right...).

When her father ended up in the hospital two days ago, I let her know what was going on. Regardless of my anger at her/her decision, this was her dad. She showed up at the hospital and just gave me a big hug, and it was as if the past few weeks hadn't happened. Or didn't matter. Later that night, she sent me a text assuring me that everything was going to be ok.

We aren't always going to agree with decisions other people make... we can't (unfortunately) control other people. But we can control how we respond to these people - and it should always be with love. And it took a 20 year old to remind me of this.

Love selflessly:

Sometimes, I just can't always be the strong one. After receiving bad news after bad news, I fall apart. And this is often after I tell one of my daughters bad news and she starts crying. Every time this happens, my son is right there, wrapping us both in his arms.

When I'm scared, angry and/or hurting, I often withdraw into myself. Yes, I am still there for my children, but I often ignore the needs of others who are also hurting.  But not this kid. In spite of his own fears and anger and sorrow, he always puts the rest of his family first. He's the first one to reach out to his siblings, and even to me and his father, when things are going rough. He pushes aside his own needs to help friends, neighbors, and strangers.

Granted, he does still need to care for himself (as do all of us). But no matter how much pain we're in, we need to remember there are others also hurting - others who need support and love. And it took an 18 year old to remind me of this.

Let love trump greed:

Last night, my youngest son found an addressed envelope near a snow pile. The envelope appeared to have been outside for a couple months at least, most likely having been dropped in the snow and eventually buried by more. He showed his sister. She and her friend decided to open it as they didn't recognize either of the names on the envelope. It was a thank you card with a gift card for Starbucks. At first, they contemplated keeping the card - who doesn't love a good cuppa Starbucks coffee? And then they read the card.

"Thank you for taking such good care of our son this year, when we weren't able to care for him." It was signed by the parents, and also by an obviously young child.

These two teens decided Starbucks wasn't that important. They placed the card and gift in a new envelope, with a letter of their own to apologize to the recipients that they hadn't received it earlier, but that they had just found it in the snow. I usually think of myself as an honest person, and would like to think that I would have made the same decision. But... coffee...

There was someone most likely needing to hear this thank you, and deserving to be shown appreciation for taking care of a child who was not their own. Our own greed should never come before honesty and love. And it took a 16 year old (and her 18 year old friend) to remind me of this.

There's no room for pride or envy in love:

I have twins - a boy and a girl. They are polar opposites, with the exception of their love for sports. My daughter is very outgoing, talkative, and extroverted. My son is very shy, quiet, and introverted. Yesterday, they had a long day at a track meet. My daughter placed first in one event, second in two events, and third in her fourth event. My son only placed in two of his events - fourth in one, and eighth in the other.

Rather than my son being jealous of his sister's accomplishments, he congratulated her and told her what a great job she did. And instead of being prideful and having a "ha! I did better than you!" attitude, my daughter told her brother he did a great job as well, and assured him of how great he is in sports. Neither focused much on their own accomplishments, but on the accomplishments of the other.

It's really easy to get wrapped up in our own successes, we often forget to show encouragement and support to others. We find ourselves filled with self-pride. We get so wrapped up in our own failures, we often forget to show joy in others' accomplishments. We find ourselves filled with envy. There's nothing wrong with being proud of what we accomplish, or feeling a little down when we don't do as well as we wanted, but love is about other people - about lifting them up, and encouraging them when they're feeling down; and being happy for them and celebrating with them their accomplishments. And, it took two 13 year olds to remind me of this.

Enjoy being in the presence of loved ones: 

I had a long, stressful day at work yesterday. The work itself wasn't stressful. Finding out at 9am that my husband would be having a surgery, and is two hours away from me, and knowing that I still had to finish out the work day - that was stressful. After picking up my youngest son from school, I had to tell him what was going on. After a lot of hugs, he asked if we could go to the park and fly kites. The last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere. And while my son would disagree with me, kite flying really isn't the most exciting thing to do. But, he needed it, so we went. The kite I had broke before we even got there (windy day.... cheap kite... ). So, I was going to get to watch kite flying. Even more exciting...

And yet, it was a wonderful hour or so. Just watching him having fun and hearing him every now and then saying "Mom, look!" made me forget about my stress. Having him laugh in the midst of all the chaos our family is going through.... there was nothing I could do but also laugh.

Often times, when we're stressed or hurting, we want to just crawl in a hole and avoid people. And we don't want to laugh and have a good time when someone we love is hurting (maybe it's a guilt thing). We want to sulk and be miserable. But it's at these times when we need to get out of our hole, and enjoy the little things in life. We need to get out and be in the presence of loved ones. And, it took an 11 year old to remind me of this.


I am so grateful of the children God has blessed me with, and the lessons they are continuously teaching me. These are only some of what they taught me... and just within the past 48 hours.

May you all be blessed with love.

God bless

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