Summary: Children need to learn to demonstrate the love of Jesus is the both small and the significant moments of life, just as Jesus did.
What Parents Owe Their Children
A Lifestyle of Love – part one
Do you ever remember this game? You’d just met and spent some time with a very special person of the other gender. The gleam in their eyes, the smile on their lips… you can’t stop thinking about them. When they’re around, you feel completely at ease, and all knotted up inside too. So you’re out walking around trying to figure out what’s going on with you. You see a flower, and you play this little game: “She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me.”
Who invented this game? Who decided that flowers have some kind of mystical capabilities to inform us about the emotional tendencies of someone else? Did Sir Isaac Newton sit under a flower once, see his future bride and suddenly a petal fall from a flower? Was Shakespeare sitting in a flower bed pulling petals off a rose when one of his famous sonnets came to him? Did the Apostle Paul decide to remain single because of the decision of the infamous flower-they-love-me-not assessment?
What a terrible way to examine someone else’s love.
Of course I’m being facetious. But I’m on to something. How many of us have wrestled with ourselves all night wondering if someone that we loved, loved us in return? How many of us have worried ourselves sick, afraid that our love will be unrequited by a gentle stranger we met just a few days ago.
How many of us have wondered about how true the love of a good friend actually is? How often have we engaged the doubts sneaking around in the back of our mind about the genuineness of the love we sense from a friend, a neighbor, a parent… a spouse?
We all want and need to know that we are genuinely loved. This is a fundamental and rather significant need of each individual and all of humanity. And it is a need we begin to face rather early in our lives, isn’t it. Children have a very real need to know about love – not just to hear about love through stories, through games, through church. They need to know love, firsthand.
Children need to see someone else practicing love on a daily basis, in the carefree moments of the morning, in the festival of recreation we call the weekend, in the daily grind of going to and coming home from work, in the nightly ritual called bedtime. In the middle of our worst days, in the heights of our most strenuous moments, in the center of the arguments in our marriages, children need to see love practiced, alive, and thriving.
This is no easy task, because love, while very much a part of our eternal design, tends to elude us. It is a far more selfless practice than we’d like to admit. It requires more energy and effort than often we’d like to commit. But love is the highest and holiest of human endeavors. Love draws us toward Heaven, grows us toward God and shapes us like Christ like nothing else we do as people.
And as daunting and difficult as this may be, it is a goal towards which we must climb. Too many children, too many toddlers, too many teenagers grow up in a world where the only definitions of love they see are the ones presented by the media. Too many children in our schools never see the selfless nature of love in their daily lives. Too many children in our neighborhoods never know the kind of giving and generous love of our faith. Too many children in our own homes grow up, on one hand knowing they are loved, and on the other, never being entirely sure about this Agape love we keep talking about.