“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
It’s interesting that the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is so full of the word “love.” Of course, most of it concerns agape love which isn’t romantic love but the love of kindness, compassion, acceptance, and wishing for the other person’s well-being. It is the love that friends have for friends, and there can be a tremendous bonding between friends that lasts a life-time. Those of us who have experienced that kind of friendship are truly blessed, and often that blessing happens with only one or two people.
I’ve been fortunate to have more than two friends like that. These are people whom I can trust to be there for me even when I’m at my worst. They stand up for me, comfort me, listen when I don’t even make any sense, and help me come around to rational thinking or give me feedback that points me in a different direction (or at least gets me back on track). Each one is someone I cherish and love. Would I lay down my life for them? I would like to think that the bond is that strong, but mostly we don’t know what would happen when push comes to shove. I DO know that I consider Jesus to be that kind of friend to me, and I already believe that he HAS laid down his life for me. That is the strength of his love.
It’s interesting that this particular passage from the scriptures in the lectionary happens to fall on Mother’s Day, and that it the type of love I would like to really concentrate on at this point. There is no doubt in my mind that my mother would have laid down her life for me if it came to that. Her sacrifices for our family were great, selfless, and putting herself aside nearly all the time. Mom didn’t put herself aside grudgingly, but because she wanted what was best for us. Her self-giving love what she offered because she thought that was what would help us to become fully who we were meant to be as God’s children. I’m not sure Mom had a vision for each of us, and we heard time and time again that what she wanted for us was our happiness.
When we weren’t happy, she wasn’t happy, and she was there for us to listen, to sympathize, to empathize, and to advise to the best of her ability. She gave up being a stay at home mom when my older brother started college, and when I entered college that meant two of us were there. Working long hours and making a minimum wage helped both of us get through college with fewer student loans, and she did the same thing for my younger brother and sister when they went on to higher education. Both Mom and Dad worked hard all their lives to make a good life for us and provide for us.
Mom could make a casserole that would feed six of us from some pasta, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, a can of tuna, and some spices. It was delicious, inexpensive, and ingenious. We had more casseroles than I could ever remember, and there were times when she went hungry so we could eat. I never realized it until I was much older and not living at home any more. In some ways, I wish she had told us that she wasn’t eating because of that because I think it would have made us more generous and giving toward her. Regardless, Mom loved us enough to sacrifice for us. She still does in her own way even though she doesn’t have to give up food (she doesn’t eat much now anyway at the age of almost eight-eight).
As Mom begins to deal with her aging issues, she has some diminished capacities. But the one thing we all can count on is that her love for us continues to be strong, steady, and protective. We may not be able to get the feedback from her that we used to, but we always know that she loves us. To me, that is the kind of love God shows us. That is the kind of love that God has for each one of us as the beloved children of God. God loved the Son, and the Son loved us, and we are called to love in the same way. A mother’s love is like no other. My mother’s love is solid and forever. I believe I have been given the gift of God’s love through the person that God sent to be my mother and who has lived her life faithfully fulfilling who she was meant to be as my mother. I’m very grateful to have been blessed with a good mother whose love has brought me closer to God.
Thanks, Mom. I love you.