When my mother lay dying in Dallas and I, in Boston wrestled with God, I asked him three times, if she were going to die, who would love me? The actual questions were specific, like who would buy me clothes, talk to me for hours on the phone, correct me boldly, but never mind. In answering my questions God made it clear that the love with which my mom loved me for 40 years came from him and would not stop coming, although in different combinations, different people, but recognizable as his love.
She had prayed for God to make her loving, as I do now every morning that God would give me his love to give to others. I only began a year ago.
Reflecting on her life, the first year of grief, I realized how much she lavished love. She spoke all the love languages, but especially gifts to me. Yet one time when with her I was very discouraged. I cried out to God, “She just wants me to obey her and to love what she gives me.” (I may have been struggling with autonomy there, feeling like a 0 that made her 1 a 10.) Clear as day the answering thought took me by surprise: Make the switch.
God wants me to obey him and to love what he gives me.
Struggling to love without my mom-source around, crying at odd moments, three years after her death I revisited the place of our many visits together in the summer time. Dear friends spoke love into my heart for her sake, “Your mother blessed me.” With another friend I realized, “I’ve been given great love, and I just pass it on.”
He cleaned my heart, gave it back to me, and said, “Now go love.”
But I know my weakness, I know my heart-troubles. So every morning I wake to ask him for love for that day. Simple dumb prayer (dumb as in mute), “Lord give me your love to love my people with, these that you have given me.”
I don’t feel any different. It’s not an emotional love, although emotions can swamp or lift when it comes to that. It’s a sort of waiting, there when you need it.
I’ll be honest, some days I do forget to pray it. Some days I do muddle around in my flesh. By comparison I can see the practice of that prayer is effective.
The day runs with decisions.
Do I vacuum the floor now, or do I rush out to beach day and think I’ll get to it when I get home, maybe? Vacuuming the floor has become an act of love. I don’t know why the floor needs it 3x a day!
Do I put down the computer keyboard when Ravinia’s waking up and go in to love her up, staying with her as she wakes and stretches, or do I sit, reading, thinking “I’ll go in just a minute,” hearing her stretch and wake and miss the moment to bless her morning, filling her love cup?
Do I hug Grandpa in the morning when he comes out to make his egg, validating his presence and giving him touch, a gift perhaps no one else will, or is at least as qualified to do, or sit reading and content myself with a cheery “good morning”?
There are times I will not speak of when I cry out to God because I feel unloved and he, father to the orphans, husband to the widows, reminds me he is there for all of us in our need, so that we can pass out love even when hurt. His love, not my own self centered hurt heart love!
The practice of love, then, starts with connecting to the source. Obey him, love who he gives me.