Love: When Loving Is Hard

Storm moving in

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This mama job is hard some days.

The boys got to bed late last night….for a lot of reasons. One woke up tired. One woke up mean. It’s the mean that is hard for my heart to look beyond.

As he spewed his negative and his mean on the morning, I found myself reacting, distancing myself from the venom.

Basketball hoop

I hate seeing my response to my children when they stomp on my wounds. The distancing, the curt tones and words? Sooo not what my picture of “good mama” resembles. My instinct is to withhold the tenderness, the love he so desperately craves. In an attempt to protect myself.

But the truth is sometimes I have to risk injury to love others. Especially my boys who have issues of their own by virtue of the fact they’re  adopted. It hurts to have one of them reject me, my attempts to love them through their pain.

It injures to have the mean glare directed my way because I am the safe person in their lives to vent on.

To have it directed at a heart that still struggles with rejection sometimes? It’s like rubbing lemon juice into an open wound. The sting and the hurt make me want to recoil.

Peter looking for fish

Edmund fishing

But Jesus . . .

He loved those who spat upon Him, those who pressed a crown of dagger-like thorns onto His head, those who nailed His wrists to a rough wooden cross.

He loved them enough to pray for them. That His Father would forgive them for they knew not what they were doing.

Big hands little hands 2

What a challenging example to emulate.

Today, as I drove the boys to school, Jesus impressed upon me the truth that what my boys need most—especially when “mean” comes to visit them and spew onto me—is my calm, gentle, consistent love for them.

Peter contemplative

They need the reassurance that even when they’re ugly, they are still loved. They don’t quite understand the idea of Jesus’ love for them being unconditional. God has given me the calling to model this for them.

Even when the glares pierce my spirit.

When their words and tones and anger shatter the calm morning I tried to establish.

Brother Love

Love needs to be lived out, even when it’s undeserved. Even when it’s not returned.

For my boys, it needs to be the calming factor directed toward a chaotic spirit. As I grow better at loving them through these rough seas, my hope is that they will see glimpses of Jesus and grow to love Him and be wrapped up in His love.

Boys n me 7-4

This is my hope. My prayer. Especially on the mornings when “mean” comes to visit our home.

What about you? How do you show love to those who are difficult to love? What truths has God taught you in loving the unlovely?

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12 thoughts on “Love: When Loving Is Hard

  1. Oh, golly. Jeanne, you do have a knack for straight-to-the-heart topics these days!

    Without going into specifics, the way I’ve come to terms with this is to realize that I’m expendable.

    My life is forfeit, and indeed I’ve been writen off the roster of the living by more than one person. One might think it hard, not being quite dead yet.

    But the thing is…people need to move on when they need to move on, and whether I’m still here or not is irrelevant.

    So what happens to me at this point kinda doesn’t matter. I can take it – after all, I’ll be dead soon, so what;’s the big problem?

    This can make civility, much less love, a bit difficult. But it’s no less needed.

    Thing is, I can’t control what anyone else does, says, or feels. I can’t control the way they see the world.

    I can control that which I do. Love is a choice, and I can choose to love regardless.

    It makes it easier to know that I’m dealing with the functional equivalent of children. I’ve seen the elephant; they haven’t.

    I owe them the magnanimity that crosses over into love, because I’m ahead of the curve. With privilege comes responsibility, and I see my duty.

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    • You’re right, Andrew. You boiled it down well, so to speak. Loving is a choice. We live it out in different ways, depending on the situation. But I think we honor God when we love others. Even when it’s hard, or not received, or not acknowledged. It still honors Him. It seems like living through and living out the hardness of life does put one ahead of the curve, doesn’t it? I never thought about it that way before. As always, I’m so blessed by your thoughts.

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  2. Jeanne, I know your post isn’t on adoption. But do you think your boys think of adoption at that age? Boys are different from girls. I’d only mention it to the girls about once a year. And it would be like they had never heard it before. Then they’d move on. They didn’t even seem to care. They were just too young, having fun, and being kids … and didn’t care about that serious talk stuff. I’m glad they were like that. I said just enough that it wasn’t a total shock to them when they were older, but not too much that it ruled them. You know? When we would talk … I’d remind them to trust God. God builds families. We trust Him. And though this is a fact of our lives, like the color of our hair, we aren’t going to choose to dwell on it. We’ll dwell on God instead.

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    • Shelli, we don’t talk about adoption a lot with the boys, but I know they think about it. They see themselves as different (so they say) because they don’t live with their biological parents. They’re bonded to my husband and me, so I don’t worry about that. But I know they think about more than we talk about it.

      God is good. As you said, He puts families together. And I’m so SO grateful for our boys. We try to remind them that we’re all adopted into God’s family. I don’t think that quite registers yet. Hubby and I do our best to love them well, to parent them godly and to pray like crazy. 🙂

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  3. Jeanne, I know about distancing. Many years ago, a difficult woman worked in the same library I did. I don’t remember why I thought she was difficult (that was 30 years ago), but I never went out of my way to talk to her. When I left that job, several ladies (including her) took me out for a going-away dinner. At the restaurant, I discovered she was really a nice lady, but it was too late to be friends. I had been commuting and never saw any of them again. I wonder, what did I miss by not trying to get to know her when I had the chance?

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    • Terri, I’ve had a few relationships like that in my life too. Regret on the passing. It’s hard to love well when we don’t fully understand why the other person acts the way they do. (Maybe even more so when we do understand). Thankfully, God’s grace ministers when we realize we’ve missed opportunities He gave us. And He usually brings around another opportunity down the road. 🙂 At least that’s what I’ve found. I’m a slow learner sometimes. 🙂

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  4. God always gives us what we need. Perhaps when mean visits, He is there waiting for you to give Him your hurt response, so He can heal it. You are so precious and your vulnerability speaks of your capacity to love greatly. You are a gifted writer, Jeanne. You draw people in to their best. You are a good Mama. Trust God. Prayers.

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  5. It means so much to them when we love consistently. Sometimes they don’t realize it until much later. I think I did as much with my parents. I think my daughter might do the same with me… she’s moving into the pre-teen years. I can feel mean slipping in sometimes. Prayers from one Mama to another 🙂 Are you attending ACFW… if so, I hope you all have a wonderful time!

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    • You’re right, Lisa. Kids thrive in the knowledge they are loved consistently. Oh, those pre-teen years. I’m there with you. Mean makes plenty of appearances in the coming years. Praying for you, Lisa.

      Yes, I leave very early in the morning for ACFW. Thanks for the well wishes!

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