Hope, Love, Relationship

Choice: When Love Is Hard

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The boy’s attitude ballooned up bigger than our doorway as we rushed out for school this morning.

Teenage troubles, loss of a cell phone, Homecoming drama and hard decisions? They all coalesced to create a simmering heat beneath his normally unfettered surface.

I couldn’t wait for the boy to exit the car in the carpool line. Loving him was not the first thing on my mind.

I had my own bubbling mess of irritation threatening to destroy the quiet I envisioned for this day.

I knew I needed to go to the Lord with all of this . . . mess . . . inside me. I wanted to vent to a friend, to paint my son’s attitudes in the most vibrant hues of frustration. To calm some of the writhing inside with words to a sympathetic ear.

But God. 

God’s imprint upon my heart was that I needed to bring it to Him and Him alone. It’s kind of hard to feel sympathy when the Listener doesn’t often respond verbally. As I prayed and read the Bible, my Father—the best Listener—untangled some of those knots tightening within me.

He reminded me I had a choice in how I spent my day. I could remain knotted up and hindered to the work of the day . . .

Or, I could release the hot emotion and let God’s love soothe the smarting places in my heart.

And then, I read a post about simple lives.

We all have choices on how we live out our days. What will I color that twenty-four hour period with?

Am I going to let my boys’—and others’—emotions elicit a reaction from me? Or, am I going to choose to respond in love?

The quote from the post that stopped me hard is this:

“Because every moment in what some might consider a small life was a moment painted with great love.” (Melanie Shankle, Church of the Small things)

I may never become famous—probably won’t. But does that mean my life can’t be significant in the lives of those around me?

If I choose to respond to my teen’s anger with love, what will that speak to him? Over him?

I love the visual of painting every moment with love. I don’t know how many days I have to walk this earth. I will not be remembered by a lot of people for doing something famous-making.

But if I paint each moment with love . . .

. . . if I show grace rather than irritation to my teen who’s trying to figure things out

. . . If I respond calmly and with kind tones to a boy who’s sporting a ‘tude the size of Colorado

. . . If I offer a gentle answer to another who just snapped at me rather than snapping back

. . . If I give a helping hand to someone who doesn’t say “thank you,” and I choose to be grateful for the opportunity to help . . .

How does that reflect Jesus’ love for them?

When I choose to brush love over every moment of my days, I have a feeling I will be the biggest beneficiary. When we love others the way Jesus does, we know His pleasure. 

I’ve determined to begin praying now. The next time one of my teens gets snappish, I want to paint over the moment with love. When they disagree with a decision, I don’t have to react in anger or get all stirred up inside.

When I’ve prayed for God’s wisdom and I share the hard words with gentleness, eventually our boys will see the love that painted over those choices. 

What about you? How do you pour love into your moments? How do you work through your own emotions to love others well?

Click to Tweet: When Choosing to love in every moment is hard

Today I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and Jennifer Dukes Lee. Come read other wonderful posts!

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22 thoughts on “Choice: When Love Is Hard”

  1. Great thoughts here, Jeanne, and I love the pictures…especially the butterfly.

    It can be so hard to pour out love when it’s not returned, and that’s why I tend to prefer the word ‘charity’. Love is a loaded word; there’s an objectivity in charity that I personally find easier to execute.

    And besides, you can’t work charity into a phrase like that abomination of Christian jargon, “to love on someone”.

    Ugh.

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    1. Thanks, Andrew. I kind of like that butterfly picture too . . . just a little. 😉 I can definitely understand your preference for “charity,” it’s more intentional and action-oriented, isn’t it? And, I grinned at your use of the cliché “to love on someone.”

      I’m praying for you today, friend.

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  2. This is a great post, Jeanne- the perfect reminder as I start the day. It is important to remember we have a choice in the little things and how we respond can make all the difference. I love the idea of painting every moment with love.

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  3. Jeanne,
    I love the imagery of painting love over every moment of life. We are called to participate in Christ’s suffering, but we are also called to participate in His joy in speaking Love over many people and situations we encounter every day. We can’t be perfect at it, because we aren’t Christ, but we can ask Him to help us speak love when given the chance.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, this imagery has stayed with. me too. We do participate in both Jesus’ suffering and joy. I am really having to choose to paint love over some of my moments with my boys. Yes, I need to look for those opportunities to speak love over them, and to speak love, even when I might want to say other things. 😉 Thanks for sharing your perspective, my friend!

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  4. Oh yes, Jeanne … I get what you’re saying here! When I remember to pray, even in the midst of the verbal onslaught, to keep my mouth shut and simply smile, things always go better for everyone. When I start reacting back, not so much. I’m finding my ability to respond is often hampered by things like tiredness, stress, too much on my mind, etc, which tells me prayer is ever more necessary! I love the idea of painting every moment with love … that’s a visual I can take with me and hopefully remember! Hang in there, my friend. 🙂

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    1. I love your way of dealing with the verbal onslaught! Lips closed and a smile. I need to learn this. 😉 And you’re right. When I am tired, over-hungry, stressed, I usually don’t respond in the best ways. I need to remember the image too. I hope your week is a good one, my friend!

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  5. We live in an angry world. Politicians are angry, social groups are angry, heck we can’t even watch a football game on ESPN without hearing an angry commentator venting about everything but football. But in the midst of all this, there is no denying that the Word of God has a way of unraveling anger, changing perspective, and freeing us to respond to conflict from a place of love.

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    1. So true, Gene. Sometimes our anger reveals deeper layers. And sometimes those layers need to brought before God and dealt with. I’m learning this in a whole new way with two teens in the house…..I so appreciate your insight of being teachable and open to seeing things with a different perspective so we. An respond from a place of love.

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  6. Painting every moment with love is a hard thing to do, especially with a teen boy. I know because mine just became a teen. It was so easier to paint love strokes all about him when he was smaller. But now that he is taller than me and a smarty mouth, I am coming to realize he needs to see my love more than my retort or arguing back. And when I do paint some love on him, he melts before my eyes and turns back into that sweet little boy who really wants to know that he is loved and valuable and treasured. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Theresa, please forgive the delayed response. I was out of town last week. I’m playing catch up this week. 🙂 I’ll second your words that painting every moment with love is hard to do with teen boys. It’s that mouth out of control that makes it hard for me to paint love over some moments. But, you’re right. When we respond with loving words instead of that snarky retort, things change. Maybe not immediately, but in time. When our boys reach the age of having some perspective, they’ll look back and see the love we tried to paint over the difficult moments, and they may even say thank you.

      Mine both still crawl into my lap sometimes, too. I will take every one of those moments with them. I so appreciate your honesty here. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey!

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  7. Ah, Jeanne … where were you when I had two teenage girls? I’d have been a better parent with this reminder that God always gives us choices on how we can thoughtfully respond rather than react to whatever emotions are coming down the pike.

    This is a beautiful offering, one which will encourage other moms in the same boat. And do the same for those of us who in yet a different season of choices.

    Bless you …

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    1. Linda, thank you for your words here. Sorry it took so long to comment back. I guess the good thing about 20/20 hindsight is we an encourage others to make the choices we wish we’d made. The other good thing is that God has the power to redeem those broken places in each relationship. No matter where we are in our lives, we can choose to paint moments with love, especially in the words we speak. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  8. I love these thoughts, Jeanne, and the beautiful idea of painting every moment with love. I love being reminded, in the midst of our simple lives, to pour out our hearts to God, let Him heal all the smarting places, and pour out His love to anyone around us. Thank you. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Trudy, we all need reminders to pour out our hearts to God, don’t we? I love what you said about how God can heal those smarting places in our hearts. Thankfully, nothing is beyond Him. And isn’t it amazing how He can use us to pour out His love into others’ lives? I’m so glad I (we) belong to Him.

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  9. Jeanne, beautiful. Just last night, I was faced with an opportunity to share my heart’s hurts over a situation. I felt God hushing me … just be quiet. Keep your feelings to yourself, Shelli … I don’t know why, but I know I avoided something … Sometimes I listen, and sometimes I don’t … I’m thankful that I listened … ❤ Painting love … oh, yes. ❤

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    1. Shelli, good for you for listening to that prompting to stay silent. It’s SO hard to do that sometimes. May we both be attended to God’s promptings and available to paint His love into and over our moments.

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  10. Taking your troubled mind to God instead of verbalizing to others is something I aspire to do more often! Journaling sure helps, however your story has given me another tool of looking up and remembering to colour the day with love, quietly.

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    1. Lynn, taking my words and heart to God first (and sometimes only) something I need to do more often too. Thank goodness God’s grace can cover our mistakes, and He is willing, though His grace, to refine us in this way. I agree, journaling has been huge in helping me to keep my words between Him and me only. May we each color each day with His love.

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  11. Painting every moment with love . Wow! What a magnificent goal! I have regrets about times when I allowed the anger to vent forth. next time I’ll remember to paint that lovely mellow orange color over it. Thanks Jeanne!

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    1. Mom, I’ve let anger vent from me more often than I care to admit. I guess it’s only as we come to God in repentance and then allow Him access to our hearts that He can really bring about the transformation from anger to grace, huh? Thank you for your words.

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