Philippians 4:11 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
A few years ago, just after returning home to England, my mother had a stroke. It was hard to be so far away at such a time, but even harder was the terrible feeling that I had "lost" her, even though she was still with us. The long letter she wrote to me, the weekend before her stroke, was the last she wrote, as writing was very difficult for her after that. She had just mailed it when the stroke happened. Mum's speech was affected as well as her memory. Although she has made great gains since then, at the time we didn't know that would happen. I remember struggling with the feeling that I didn't know "who" she was any more.
God gave me an insight that helped me through that tough time. I found myself thinking of when as expectant parents we anticipate the future, dreaming of what will be for our children. For instance, I remember the moment I heard the words, "It's a girl," after giving birth to my daughter Brenda. I remember my mind catapulting to the future; thinking of the things we would enjoy doing together, like going shopping -- something we now love to do.
It was a while until we got there though, and initially I found myself caring for someone who sometimes slept all day and was awake all night and who demanded all of my attention, without regard for my need for rest or personal time. But I loved her, just as she was, and other parents love the little ones they find themselves responsible for. We love them for who they are now, not who they will be, or who we imagine they will be.
We love our children at each stage of life. We love them when they are two and both frustrated and frustrating -- and when they are teenagers, confident they know everything and fighting for their own identity. We make the adjustment to who they are at any given time and we love them anyway and often because of it!
Sometimes the adjustment is harder, as it was with my mum and it's very hard when a child receives a diagnosis that means the future you dreamed of is replaced with a different kind of future. There is a grieving of the loss of dreams and hopes. But peace and freedom come when we let go of what isn't, and get busy loving what is.
And I do love her -- this woman who was Love to me before I had words. I love her fiercely and protectively now, as she loved me then. She is as vulnerable and needy of care as I once was, but she continues to teach me about the depth and quality of love that flows from heart to heart when love comes full circle.
Father, I thank you for showing me that accepting someone for who they are is such a gift, both to them and to me. You accept us as we are. I am so amazed and grateful at that.