Thursday, July 14, 2011

Growing in Love for Those We Love

"Nothing is tougher than loving well" (Meeker 142).

I agree. The hardest part of being a wife and mother is learning how to love each individual member of my family in a way that best meets his or her needs.

Loving isn't easy. It doesn't come natural no matter what people may say.

I remember the moment after my first daughter was born. Holding her in my arms and looking into those perfect blue eyes, I expected to feel an indwelling of the mothering spirit. You know, when the maternal instincts kick in and suddenly you know how to get your baby to breastfeed, sleep, and stop crying just by holding her in a certain way.

But nothing happened. Yes, I loved that little squalling red-faced baby, but I didn't have the first clue what to do with her. And I didn't feel like my love for her was adequate.

Mothering, just like loving, is hard work.

Fast forward two-and-a-half-years. I still have to work hard at loving this child, and now there is a new one in the mix who needs to be loved in her own unique way.

And to top it off, I have a thirty-three year old big baby who requires a completely different kind of love.

Can you relate?

Loving well is tough. It requires hard work; it demands close attention to the needs of others; and it means figuring out what makes a loved one feel loved.

If I were to love my husband in the way I want to be loved, he would probably be annoyed. You see I feel loved through compliments and gifts, a listening ear and a little one-on-one time. My husband prefers hugs and kisses and some individual attention. He could care less if I gave him a birthday present or an at-a-boy. He just wants someone to snuggle.

My two-year-old needs quality time to feel loved. I have discovered that if I spend a good 15-20 minutes playing with her--my attention solely on her--that her attitude and behavior are markedly better than when I don't. Afterwards, she will play by herself and be sweet to her sister. However, without that attention that she so desperately craves, Kate throws tantrums, back talks, and generally epitomizes the quintessential "terrible two's." It really is a matter of loving her in the right way {and making sure she has eaten and had plenty of rest} that affects her behavior.

But the hardest part of loving isn't the detective work of figuring how to best love our loved ones. It is loving them even when you don't feel like it.

At the Last Supper just hours before His death, Jesus gave His disciples "a new command":
"'Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must you love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another'" (John 13:34-35).
Jesus is the perfect example of love. His love is self-less and unconditional; it is sacrificial and unyielding. He commands us, His followers, to love just as He loved. That is a tough order to fill!

We must be willing to sacrifice our time, our energy, our happiness, even our lives, for others. Only then will the world know that we are His disciples.

Do you struggle with loving those closest to you, or does loving come natural?

Do you know how best to love those closest to you?

**If so, what do you do to fill up their love tanks?**

**If not, I would encourage you to take some time to pay close attention and observe your loved one. What really brings a smile to his or her face?**

1 comment:

  1. Keri, what a well timed post for me to read. You are so right, it is difficult to love our loved ones the way they need to be loved! A great reminder to keep at it and working to find those ways to grow our connections and love in our family!