This quote made me pause for thought this afternoon. After really struggling with depression and feeling lonely for this last week, and finding myself crying Saturday for the first time in a long time, and then Cassie announcing that she is moving her wedding date up AND that she's not sure she wants to marry Chris, I have spent some time thinking about love and what it means...what it calls me to be; requires of my time and heart; and how I meet the standards of a Christian woman wanting to "represent" in the world. I know I cannot love as I should without God's help. I am a selfish, self centered, scared to be hurt woman who bears too many scars on her soul, put there "in the name of love". Cruel words, stated as "I hope you accept my words as a gift", being told to not get too full of myself to the point of me struggling with being confident at all, being told "I wish you were never born"...man. That takes a sledge hammer to the whole concept of love and how to act on it. But when I love well, when I allow God to ooze out my pores, when I look to others for what I can offer them instead of what they can give me, well...that is a whole different story. THEN I can touch the edges of this idea of unconditional love. So I guess, the question to ask myself when I fail at this love this, is "WHAT IS STOPPING ME FROM LOVING GOD UNCONDITIONALLY????" and then taking that to thought and prayer and moving toward that omnipresent love that CAN ooze from my pores...not for my benefit (although I certainly DO), ,but for the benefit of those I say I love so much.
Who do I love most unconditionally? My kids. without a doubt form the moment I knew they existed, they have been the best and hardest work of my life. They light my day and haunt my nights. They are the best and worst of me. They, shining for the world to see, are the continuation of tea parties, and snuggling/reading in our waterbed, precious memories that are shared with no one. Silly traditions and dreams. They are faith come alive...faith in the future and in love and in the belief that tomorrow can be a better day. They challenge me on who i SAY I am versus who I REALLY am. I am a better person for loving them. for setting my selfish heart to the side to revel in their sweet baby kisses, their toddler sweat (and Cassie's wild hair), their questions and wonderings and growing up. I am amazed. And it doesn't matter if they do anything GREAT in life, or accomplish anything the world recognizes as valuable. They did one amazing thing...they created a mother in me.
I love my nieces and nephews in the same way... they make me laugh, cry. They make me wonder what the world will be like for them...what their children will be like, if their futures plans will pan out to resemble at ALL what they think it will. What will their faith grow to be? What will challenge it...will they stay close or travel far? Do they know what an impact they have made on my life and my soul? How blessed I am to spend summers and weekends and holidays with them. To have travel memories, both literally and figuratively? My best memories, without a doubt are with my family around.
I love my sibs unconditionally...I've been disappointed, for sure, and hurt. But they are the rock on which my memories are built. They are my history. The DNA of my personality and dreams and nightmares. We walked together through soooo many things. We are all so different, but we are still the Hanlini's!!
I love Paul unconditionally. Doesn't mean I didn't wish he'd grow healthier. But not for me to gain (I certainly wouldn't walk away from THAT prospect), but for his own PASSION for life to grow, for his FAITH TO BE real, and deep and amazing. For our kids...to see their dad at his best and brightest, each day better than before. So he can set aside those gaping wounds in his soul and allow them to be healed by God...and then see the sweet result of what He can do with those scars...the miracles He brings to us to show us how He uses our pain for His gain. WOOHOO!!!
My girlfriends...man, we have shared some butt ugly truths about ourselves and they still love me. What a blessing. Thanks Judy...for listening to my sorrow and understanding; Dana...for challenging me to be a better wife; and Lynda...for giving me a gift just when I longed to feel thought of...
And the flip side...who do I think loves me unconditionally...well. God. My grandma did. Her hugs were like balm to my soul. Judy Dori, Kimberlee, Dana, Lynda, Melissa, Sherrie. I think they do. I am a blessed woman. Paul does.
Everyone needs twelve hugs a day for optimal physical and emotional health. Bear hugs are especially good for relieving stress and tension. I'd give anything to hug today, 12 times at least:
Cassie, my dad, grandma, Meliss, Meesh, Judy, Dor. Yep. Cyber-hugs and God-hugs sent to you in my thought and hearts.