Someone recently asked me “What are your dreams for your children?” I gave a blank stare as I tried to summon words for my response. The questioner continued with “I mean, everyone has dreams for their kids, right?”
Ummmm, “Well yes, of course! So many dreams, so many…” My words trailed off as the feelings of being a defective parent took over. “Am I a bad mom because I can’t rattle off a list of dreams for the lives of my children?” I began to wonder.
If I could revisit that conversation now, as I’ve had some more time and space to think it over, I’d share that I don’t have a list of tangible “dreams.” Instead, I carry just one hope for my kids: that they be love.
Love. It’s usually thought of in mushy, fluttery terms. We typically think of the romantic comedy definition. Love is out there. We seek it, hope for it, pursue ‘finding’ it with all of our resources. Our culture, feeding us the hope of finding/having our “one true love,” encourages that all of our lives, from our wardrobe to hobbies, to social media profiles… all of it should trend toward finding or displaying our “in-love-ness.” But what tends to happen when we let our concept of love follow that definition, well… it just gets all tangled up with other stuff (like desire and romance and sexuality). It can get messy and confusing and it can also fail. That kind of love can fall victim to the reality of our fallen world.
But if our definition of Love is esteemed to be more than a feeling or even an action, if we believe it to not be something “out there” to find, but instead “within us” to be, we can live effective lives. If you, like me, are a Believer in Christ then Love is seated inside you, embedded in your identity, gifted by your Creator.
Love is your purpose.
It’s who you were made to be. It’s the reason your soul has skin on it, to be Love in this world.
I’ve learned that it takes a lot of training to be love. I keep a card of 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 on my refrigerator door because I need to see the reminders of my intended identity regularly. I also keep the card there to help me parent.
does not envy
does not boast
is not proud
does not dishonor others
is not self-seeking
is not easily angered
keeps no record of wrongs
does not delight in evil
rejoices with the truth
love never fails
These words, they are the hope I have for my children.
When a meltdown occurs in the grocery aisle because mommy isn’t buying that toy today, my daughter has to repeat to me the truth of her identity: “I can be patient.”
When my son hoots and hollers when he scores a goal in soccer, I later have a conversation about sportsmanship where he must repeat back his identity: “Love does not boast.”
When they hit, or hurt feelings, or have trouble sharing, the identity-shaping words: “I can be kind” must be spoken.
And I have to use the love standard on myself too. All.of.the.time. When someone makes a racist remark about my daughter and I try to shy away from confrontation, I remind myself: “I protect.” When I raise my voice, and notice my fuse feels short I remind myself: “I’m not easily angered.” When I’m tempted to give up: “I persevere.” When conversation turns gossipy: “I do not dishonor others.”
And even though I fail to get love right every time and in all situations, I know that the resource of Love will never fail to cease. I will ever-be training to fulfill my identity in its fullest form.
I want to be Love.
(That’s all God wants for all of His kids too.)