Unconditional love----what does it look like?
The question has been rattling around in my consciousness for a while, really.
I know the concept, of course.
I have read my Bible.
But the practice! Do I get that?
Less, rather than more, I find.
So, as always, my life circumstances are a patient teacher, slowly but inevitably showing me where my expectations are once again rooted more in results and my personal perception of progress than
Love sits next to a frightened and querulous husband in a hospital bed and understands that he's too freaked out to return the love. He can't really master his emotions. He desperately looks for assurance from the nearest human being, and sputters and spits when that human being fails.
He is a Love Detector!
And the people around him feel "found out" over and over! None of us can produce that love!
My most beautiful moments are the ones where I quietly admit, right on the spot, how bankrupt I am in and of myself. Somehow, that confession opens the door to One who can show us what unconditional love looks like. We need His example, don't we? And by looking at Him in impossible circumstances, we can see through the paralyzing fog of our perceptions for just a moment, and Unconditional Love floods our surroundings. The querulous husband quiets, aware of something greater than himself, and is comforted.
Daily I pray that Stu will be comforted by that One. His thrashing and resistance is only in a more obvious form than my own----he is a living picture of the human condition! The stroke has stripped him of his natural cover, and his insecurity is laid bare. But is he really any different than you and me? If I was not walking through this territory on a daily basis, I'm sure I would be much more likely to think that I was "better than that". But the stroke is teaching me that......I'm not.
Paradoxically, something that comes through more and more forcefully as the months roll by is that I must sometimes stand back and let Stu suffer for a while without me. This is good for both him and me, whether he agrees with that or not (usually not!) Recently I had to take more than a week of "sabbatical" from my usual pattern of visiting and calling. I tend to dread these times, since "all hell breaks loose" at first. His behavior is more erratic and demanding. He panics. I put it off until something in me knows that if I continue it will become drudgery and duty. Ugh. That's even worse than facing what might come up while I'm gone. So I lay low-----and I pray FOR him. I suppose I share this with you because all of us, I think, have a "Stu" in our life. And it is hugely tempting to try to manage it yourself. But I encourage you to do a reality check. How does it go for you when you do manage it by yourself?
After more than a week away, spent in deep prayer, I find myself refreshed, my own cup refilled by a merciful Father. One night I laid awake, gripped by the drama of the situation, and trying desperately to remember what God has told me about Himself. The next second the words of the 23rd psalm floated to the surface of my mind
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death,
I will fear no evil, for he is with me, his rod and his staff, they comfort me."
Each separate thought in this first part of the psalm is loaded with meaning for me. (if you have not pondered through it yourself, I highly recommend a little book called "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller)
Because I have committed it to memory, it was there in the dark night, waiting to comfort my soul.
So today, on this fresh September morning, I am ready to go up and spend some time with Stu, interested to see what will be revealed. I can trust that, in God's economy, it is good.