Love used to be a hard thing for me to understand.
I thought I knew love when I fell head over heels for a boy when I was 12. I thought it was love because I liked the way he looked and because I wanted to hang out with him all the time, but that’s not love.
I thought it was love when I got new clothes or gadgets because I wanted to take care of it and use it all the time, but that wasn’t love either.
I thought it was love when I saw a commercial of a poverty-stricken place and my heart broke, but that wasn’t love because after the commercial ended or the picture passed, I’d go right back to my normal life.
This year, for me, is about grace but I’m learning that love and grace go hand in hand. You can’t have love without grace and you can’t have grace without love, it’s just not possible.
As of Monday, we have 6 kids in our home,
G, an 11-year-old girl,
L a 15-year-old girl,
R, a 9-year-old girl,
A, a 3-year-old boy,
K, a 17-year-old girl
And S, a 2-week-old baby.
We’ve been open since April 5th when G arrived and in this short month, I have learned so much about love and grace.
When I was young, I only knew how to show selfish love, or in other words, show love when you can get something out of it and I think it’s apart of our sinful nature to think this way.
When I met Jesus, I learned about selfless love, love that gives everything up just to make sure others are all right. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn it and practice it.
I’ve seen it in my parents who work tirelessly for my well-being.
In my brothers who defend me and protect me.
In my friends who stay up late just listening to me vent or cry when I’ve had a rough day.
In my Jesus who gave his very own life just to save mine.
But this past month has been wild and it’s shown me, more than ever, what selfless love really looks like in myself and in others.
Selfless love is treating lice and spending hours upon hours picking it out. (Not just once either, over and over and over again.)
Selfless love is washing the sore, covered feet of a child.
Selfless love is waking up in the middle of the night because the kids still aren’t sleeping.
Selfless love is waiting until they fall asleep because the jungle is a scary place if you’re not used to the noises.
Selfless love is still choosing to love even when they do wrong and hurt you.
That’s what love is, it isn’t an emotion like my naïve, young self thought. Love is a verb. It demands action be taken. It requires that something be done or said or practiced. Love is choosing to love every single day, even if you don’t feel like it, if you’re tired or if you just plain angry. True love is fierce and wild and has no restrictions or limits, it just keeps going.
This kind of love is so amazing to me because it doesn’t mean that your life will be sunshine and rainbows, it means quite the opposite really. This kind of love means risking your health, safety, even life but still doing it anyway just because you so desperately want that person to know that they are loved and valued beyond belief.
I’m still selfish, I’m still failing but I’m also still learning. It may take me my whole life, but for right now I want these kids to know that with every little nit I pull out of their hair, with every foot I wash, with every ridiculous story I listen to that I am doing it because I desperately love them and because I want to show them that Jesus loves them even better than I ever could.