This summer at our 31:20 book club we read Mother Theresa's book, "No Greater Love". In the book, Mother Theresa tells a story about a family with a handicapped child; the mother of the child calls him "teacher of love". Instead of being frustrated by his disabilities, this mom chooses to see her life as enriched by his presence in their home. A few of us at the park that day could identify with that mom. Within our book club there are moms with children who have emotional, social, and physical disabilities, or kids who are just plain hard.
I have a Teacher of Love at my house. To be fair, he had a rough start and has survived more trauma in his few years than I have in all mine. There is no need to write how many years I have lived....just know I've been around a lot longer than he has.
My Teacher of Love rocked my world when he joined our family quite a few years ago. He was the first person in my inner circle that I loved but did not love me back. I had never experienced the feeling of pouring myself into a relationship, only to be rejected repeatedly. Needless to say, he was teaching me how to love, just the type of love that isn't always recipricol or pleasant.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus challenges his listeners to live out a new kind of love. He says, "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you" (Matthew 43-48, The Message).
I just wanted to love the lovable, but for years I was rejected and pushed away by my Teacher of Love. Through God's magnificent grace, an amazing husband, plenty of counseling and the one time I ran away for a day.....I survived. Slowly over time, I began to see moments of recipricol love. Then eventually he showed me love without being asked. Through God's power, Teacher of Love began to heal.
Fastforward a few years, and Teacher of Love has just lost his place as the baby of our family. We brought in a new precious little one a few months ago. Teacher of Patience. This sweet little thing has been as equally delightful as she has been challenging. Teacher of Love has been watching her behavior and keeping one eye on me to see how I will react. Most of the time, I handle Teacher of Patience with grace but sometimes I just can't take it one more minute. For example, last night. My husband was out of town and I was completely done for the day, ready to clock out. Done being a mom. Unfortunately Teachers of Love and Patience were not reading my non-verbal cues, so I made the mature decision to hide from everyone in the office, on the floor. Thankfully my older kids stepped in to help because they've seen me like this before. They know every now and then mom can't learn any more about love or patience.
As I was lying on a yoga mat, crying in the dark office someone walked in. I didn't look up because I knew if I looked up, whoever it was would think, "oh, she's fine" and proceed to teach me to patiently love again! So as I lay in my tear filled yoga mat I heard the sweetest voice. It was Teacher of Love. He came to comfort me, to give me love instead of teach me love. He sat with me and poured out compassion on me with tenderness that was surprisingly tender. In that moment, all the years of rejection, pain and hurt were soothed. The moments of doubt and fear were forgotten and my Teacher of Love became Giver of Love.
Don't give up on your Teacher of Love. Take breaks from them, sure! But don't stop loving them in the way God is calling you to. Sadly, in our broken and sinful world many of our Teachers are not capable of giving love this side of Heaven. But God's word reminds us: "Your life is like the morning fog-- it's here for a little while, then it's gone" (James 4:14 The NLT). As you hang onto an eternal perspective, knowing God sees your circumstances and notices you relentlessly pouring yourself into one of his Teachers of Love, I want to encourage you..."do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up" (Galations 6:9).