In the last months of my Grandmother's life, as she suffered from Parkinson's Disease, Grandma wasn't able to speak. But on one of my last visits to her bedside I cried to her about all of my young adult "love" angst. I asked "Grandma, how do you know when he's the right one?" Suddenly, and taking us both by surprise, she blurted out, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs." And then she laughed.
This post has absolutely nothing to do with my Grandma or with kissing frogs, but it does have everything to do with my mom's definition of love. You see, shortly after my visit with Grandma, I asked my mom the same question, hoping she had a little more tangible, clear cut ways to define "true love." Her response came out as quick and unscripted as Grandma's, "When you can clean up their throw up without thinking about anything other than their suffering as you try to bring them comfort... then you know it's love."
While her advice didn't lead me to my future husband, I was reminded of my Mom's words last night as I spent 8 solid hours "loving" this little boy beside the toilet:
We made it home from Karate just in time for Brody to tumble out of the car and throw up in the bushes by the driveway. From there we made it to this spot and didn't budge again till the retching and tears ceased.
Unfortunately, with my husband away on business, I wasn't able to meet the needs of my other two boys. I sent them to another bathroom to shower off and get their PJs on. Once they were in their beds, Asher called out, "Mom, I have the book you said you'd read to me." And I told him simply, through the door, "Mommy can't read to you tonight, I can't leave your brother, he's just too sick.
The fit that ensued was tremendous! Sad and angry words flew back at me as I held Brody over the toilet again. I asked Asher to come into the bathroom to see his brother. As Asher watched in horror I said, "If this was you, would you want me to leave your side to go read a book to your brother?" He said no gently and then turned suddenly with a fresh torrent of tears, "But you said... Sometimes I feel like you don't even love me... This is the worst night of my life..."
Finally, after much catharsis from both boys, I went to my oldest who was reading in his bed. "Would you mind reading a book to Asher tonight?" His immediate response was an offended look, but before he could say no, I went on, "Caleb, Brody is so sick tonight I can't leave his side. I need you to help me." His face softened and then he said, "I'll tuck Asher in."response
Caleb's response, as he gave up his date with Harry Potter, to read Hop on POP, was the same act of love as me laying down my comfort to wipe gunk from my Brody's chin and miss a night of sleep.
And it's hard to teach, isn't it? Just another one of those character traits we must live out each day. Modeling that sacrificial, laying down one's life, kind of love.
May God Bless us all today, as we cease from striving, and simply prefer the needs of those we love today. Jesus, of course, is our ultimate example of this.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend."