These days it seems like everyone has something to say and feels qualified to talk about love. There are all kinds of messages out there about what love “is.” You’ll find it the theme of movies, songs and books. So, let me be the first to disclose that I don’t have a degree in psychology or anthropology. I am certainly not an expert in human behavior let alone child development. It’s true, I have no formal expertise when it comes to the subject of love. However, I have lived 41 years, and married with two children, have loved and been loved — sometimes well and others not so much. And I am a follower of Christ. Qualifiers abound but these are sufficient for me to speak (with authority) in this space. So, let’s chat about how we can leave a legacy of love.
There are all kinds of books about love and the art of loving each other and doing it well, but for me, one stands out above the rest. That book is the Bible. And, whether or not you are a Christ follower – knowledge is power and the Bible has a whole lot to say about love and loving each other. Depending on the translation there are as many as 500 instances of the word love. Like I said, the Bible has a lot to say on the subject.
We love because He first loved us.
For some, our introduction into what love looks and feels like mirrored an episode of “What No To Wear.” Met with a barrage of harsh criticism in the name of helping us, in the name of loving us, we learned that love is like a prickly cactus, approached with caution and conditioned on our worthiness.
Mommas, if this was your introduction to love, if this is your current understanding of it, then can we just pause for a moment?
I want to speak truth into and over you.
You are lovable.
You are worthy of love.
You were created by a loving Father and He loves you more than you could even comprehend – He loves you with an everlasting love. He loved you so much you were bought with the price of blood. True love, Godly love, is not conditioned on your performance. There is nothing you can do to deserve or dissuade it.
“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
1 John 4:19-20
God did not love us because of something we did; to the contrary, He loves us in spite of all the things we do. Momma, if you (like me) are still learning to love and to allow yourself to be loved let us embrace this truth so that we can be certain to pass it on to our children. We can and should see ourselves and others as loved unconditionally; without reservation or dependencies. Not because we deserve it but because this is how God loves us.
Who must I love?
It’s as though God knew we would be tempted to pick and choose who we ‘had’ to love. He knew that even though His love was unconditional we would create a hierarchy of who was and wasn’t deserving. As we teach our children what it means to love, we must not be selective in our instruction. He commands us to:
Love one another. (John 4:7)
Love our neighbor as our self. (Mark 12:31)
Love your enemy. (Luke 6:35)
I think that covers just about everyone.
Please understand though (and I cannot stress this enough) that loving people is not the same as giving them free rein in our lives – an essential lesson to teach our children. We need to teach our children to identify the times when it may be healthier and safer to love certain people at a distance. Love doesn’t mean they subject themselves to abuse or harm of any sorts. Loving people doesn’t mean that we live without boundaries. Boundaries are important and healthy; and in some relationships, boundaries are more necessary than in others. Mommas, this is just as important a message to teach our children.
What does love look like?
It’s important to share with our children examples of how love should look, what it sounds like and how it feels. And while I could give you an infinite number of examples, I ‘d rather point you toward scripture. Many of you know the verses I am referring to as they’re almost obligatory for weddings
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Paul provides a description of love that focus on actions and not emotions. As a Momma in a world that equates our feelings to truth Paul’s distinction is an important one. If we’re honest we know that how or what we feel can’t always be trusted. Our emotions are fickle, ruled by all sorts of things outside our control. Certainly, if you have lived with either a toddler or a teenager you know this is true. Simply put, Paul help us to see what love looks like when lived out God’s way.Showing love to others shouldn't depend on how we feel. #loveoneanother #legacy Click To Tweet
Mommas it is up to us to show and teach our kids what kindness looks, and what it means to exercise and display patience. Our children need us to share why it’s important not to brag and make oneself seem more important or better than someone else. If we work our way through 1 Corinthians 13 with our kids, with practical applications in their daily lives, we are so many steps closer to teaching them to love the way God calls us to.
This is not a one and done lesson.
As we get older we get messier and more complicated. With each year our transgressions are greater and consequently we can become harder, more difficult and more challenging to love. We need to walk our kids through the process of loving difficult people. We need to show our kids what it’s like to love people even when we don’t feel like it. We need to remind them that we may fail but love never does.
You can do this. You can show them how to love God’s way and create a legacy of love for your family.