I've been thinking a lot this past week about what I most hope to teach my children...what I hope they will get from me above everything else. I'm not dying or anything (at least not today I hope). But after watching them at Mickey Mouse Land, and feeling a little of the awe and wonder they felt at the sights and sounds of that magical place, I have been thinking about my legacy for them. And what I've begun to realize is that I hope they understand more than anything else that I love them. I want them to rest assured that for the rest of my life, until I have nothing left to give them, until I draw my last breath...that I will love them.
I know, all too well, my weaknesses. I am impatient. Sometimes I snap at them, and my tongue can be harsh. I lose my temper at moments. I forget they are 6 and 4 and expect them to comprehend things they cannot possibly fathom. And still I love them.
Above all, I love these two people like no one before and likely no one after. Since the moment they entered my world, they have been incredible gifts. Even in their moments of impatience or anger or frustration...they are still mine. I claim them regardless. And I love them.
I was listening to some good ol Amy Grant on youtube tonight, and there's an old song she sings called Hope Set High. The refrain, which I used to think was more than a little hokey, is "When it all comes down...when it all comes down...if there's anything good that happens in life, it's from Jesus." When it all comes down, the only thing I know to do for my children is love them. And yet it is the greatest gift I can give them. I recognize I fall short at times, but I hope that when it all comes down, that I can love them first, and figure out the rest second. This is the thing I hope for in the communities I'm involved in.
The fighting, the positioning, the silliness that we all succumb to from time to time...it's all really of very little consequence. When it all comes down...it's about love. The love that is so strong it knocks down the walls we build up around us and between each other. The love that knows no boundaries...that sees no limits. The love that despite our shortcomings and faithless moments still says I will carry you...I will hold you until your faith returns and you can come to the faith on your own again. The love that overcomes our anger, sadness and fear. The love that is holy, wild, beautiful.
Love doesn't mean we ignore our own shortcomings...or ignore or condone bad behavior by others...but what it does mean is that before we talk about those things...we love each other. Someone was complaining recently to me about another member of my community. After listening for several minutes, I finally replied, "But I love him, and I have to believe that he wants what is best for you and for me. If I don't believe that, then I have to leave the community." It really is that simple for me.
If I believe that those I trust with my faith, with the faith of my children are not examples of love...then I have to move away from the community and into some place different. I've reached that point in my life, and in my faith journey, where logistics mean very little to me. Whether we gather in a basement, at a bar or in a park...means very little to me. Whether we say the words of the past thousand years or we don't say any words at all...means very little to me. It's what we do. How do we live? What are we saying to those not part of our community by what we do? What message do we send everyday in the small, subtle ways? Do we love each other first, and talk about our differences second? When we fail one another, can we still be a community of love first and of everything else second? When we disagree, whether it is about the way we worship or whether we are moving in the right direction, can we love one another first and talk about our areas of disagreement second? When it all comes down, it's about love and if anything good is to come from all of our efforts, it has to start there.