“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
February… the month of love! In my quest to continue learning, I began an 8-week class prompting me to reflect upon what it means to love. Described as a desire or responsibility for the good of another above our own self-interest, LOVE requires action and commitment; a decision rather than a feeling. It means selfless concern, and sacrifice. As a wife, mom, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend etc., I find myself striving to act in love, knowing I often fall short. Love has surely grown through trials and triumphs during our 25+ years of marriage, and I’m blessed to be mom of three children, ranging in ages 17-22, who have also enlightened me about the meaning of love.
Our youngest son recently returned from a church retreat for high school seniors and in our “debriefing” conversation, he expressed one insight shared with the seniors was how vulnerable parents can feel at this time of letting go. I affirmed this truth, recalling the tears unexpectedly filling my eyes each time I’d glance at our oldest son in his room packing for college 4 years ago. I’d quickly dart to the laundry room or closet, busying (composing) myself so he wouldn’t see me cry. I didn’t want him to think he was responsible for my tears or that I was worried about his ability to succeed, or that somehow I wouldn’t be okay without him. No, my tears stemmed from immense love for that little boy, not so little anymore. The firstborn, we were a mighty duo! When I became pregnant again, I couldn’t comprehend what love I had left to give when so much poured out already. I confessed this fear to another mom who wisely assured me, “Your first child teaches you the depth of your love and subsequent children teach you the breadth of your love.” I will never forget those words, especially when I understood them in their reality after our second and later our third child was born.
Love was expressed through snuggles, bedtime stories, hugs to comfort, words to encourage, adventures and celebrations too many to count. But I know there were also failures and disappointments, times I fell short, was distracted or didn’t act in love the way they needed me to. So the tears fell as watched our oldest prepare to leave and I wondered if I truly loved well.
Two years later we moved both son and daughter into college, the tears holding off until the long drive home. Their 18 & 20 years of life played in my mind like a movie. I was struck by the irony that many cherished moments flooding my mind were things I lamented the sacrifice of doing at the time they were happening. Those times I reluctantly gave up my agenda were transformed into beautiful memories filling me with gratitude. My heart was full and I hoped I truly loved well.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13
Laying down one’s life means setting aside our own desires in order to serve the needs of another. My greatest challenge is getting caught up in my own plans; thoughts, schedules, to-do lists swirling in my head. Did I even notice my husband or child when they entered the room? When Lauren suggested choosing a word for 2018, “PRESENCE” is the word that filled my heart. I smile now, appreciating the relevance to my attempt to love better.
Each day is a gift. I strive to be present in each moment, recognizing opportunities to act in love toward those I encounter. I will never love perfectly, but maybe one day my heart will know
I truly loved well
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