Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Love

     I love March. It's the month of my birthday. Jim will turn 3(!) and I will turn 48(!!). My brother plays poker with some old friends from our high school; they knew me as a little tomboy in pigtails. He tells me they wryly ask him from time to time, "Your sister pregnant yet?" I really don't mind their kidding. Gosh, I'm still worth a thought in their day! And regarding all our children, I feel amazingly blessed.
     Bruce and I have heard acquaintances say that they wanted to stop having children because they'd be too old a Dad or Mom. We do feel older and we're not as active as we were when we were younger. It is harder in some ways.  I've mentioned before that I wish we had more one-on-one time with each child. But really, even if their parents are in their sixties when they graduate from high school, I don't think Jim or Margaret would consider the alternative: their lack of existence.
     I will support, or defend if you will, what I believe in when questioned. We need to in order to understand each other. My friend Bev visited a few years ago when I was pregnant with Jim. Mary Pat was less than a year old. Our family had gone through a lot with her hospitalizations and surgeries and lack of concrete answers about her prognosis. Bev understandably was concerned and asked if I was thinking things through well enough. Was this wise to be bringing another child into an already stressed situation? Was it fair to the other children? Were my decisions imposing a type of life on my family that maybe they wouldn't want and would have no say in? All were valid questions borne out of love for me. We had a great few days together. Bev and I don't necessarily agree on all aspects of religion and politics but we have a bond that I can't explain. I love her like my flesh and blood. She is my friend.
 "Iron sharpens iron, and so a friend sharpens the countenance of a friend."
     A true friend does not avoid the tough questions, or tiptoe around difficult issues. By the end of her visit Bev said something beautiful. "You know, Suz, I don't necessarily agree with what you believe, but spending this time with you I understand why you do, and I won't worry about you." I do call it beautiful, because I know Bev loves me, and she showed it. She flew a thousand miles to be at my side, to help me, and to take the time to understand. We need more of that in the world. We may not agree with each other, but we can treat each other with love and dignity. If Bev truly believed there was moral flaw in what I was doing, she would have pointed it out, but would still have continued to love me.
      I am surprised at times with the non-Christian comments I hear regarding others, on the basis of morality. The comments do not reflect Christian love. Let me say here I am not a moral relativist. I do believe in natural law and morality and God and the Bible. I don't believe in "affirming everyone in their okay-ness." God's example of love was to give totally, even to the point of coming to Earth as a baby, a man, and offering himself as a sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the whole world. Jesus taught us how to love.
      Unfortunately, we fall short far too often in modeling that love. Ghandi was once asked what he thought was the biggest obstacle to the spread of Christianity. His answer: "Christians." Many of us are familiar with the words in the hymn, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; yes they'll know we are Christians by our love." Yikes. I don't think we're always great examples. I won't go into politics ‘cause I'd be blogging for days. Suffice it to say: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." We need more politicians like Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith in the movie.
     We need to love more. We need to take the time to know each other and to understand each other. We may not convince or be convinced of a difference in beliefs, but to seek to understand is to love. To turn our backs and sneer or condescend is not love. Bruce came home the other day and at our traditional dinnertime "Highs and Highers," his "Higher" was "To find, in moral or political disagreements, a place of agreement somewhere and affirm that as the starting point for discussion." We can let our differences separate us, or we can build relationships of love. Idealistic, yes, and it gets pretty dicey on some issues. But no matter: we are called to love.
     Oh, part of me would love another baby in the house! I would. I am older and the body is weaker and the family is busy. I also love that I'm finally losing Margaret-baby-weight, becoming active again and finding just a little more time to spend with each child. I won't confuse selfish desires with purports of "God's Will." I will neither confuse selfish tendencies with the obstruction of it. Yes, I have a brain and will use it. I trust that like others, Bruce and I will pray about these things and decide what is best. Our family is our greatest earthly treasure.
     I look forward to my birthday! Life's been rough at times but it's been a very good life and I hope for many more years. I think of the sweet, diminuitive, elderly lady at our church. She is a widow now and moved from Italy long ago. I ask her how she is doing when I see her and she always answers the same. With a smile, and her thick accent she says, "What can I say? I'm eighty years old. I'm here! It's better than the alternative!" So, 48 isn't so bad. It's actually pretty cool. And when the Poker-Boys ask if this old gal is pregnant I'll laugh along with them. These kids are pretty downright amazing!

God bless you,
The Abbey Farm

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