“I love you, Mom,” she said as she exited the car every morning as I dropped her off at her high school. Then she turned sixteen and began driving herself to and from school. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss those days. I cherished being the one who took her to school and sent her into her day with a reminder that she is loved. I’m thankful that I was the one who picked her up every day and got to be her sounding board for all the things — good and bad — that transpired while she was at school.
And now, she’s finished up her first year in college. It really does seem like yesterday when I took her to her first day of Kindergarten. She’s living at home and has applied to both nursing and radiology school. I’m grateful for these “bonus” years of having her here with us, but as I look ahead, I know these moments are far too quickly going to end.
It’s made me look back on the years we have had with her in our home. All the failures (and there have been many!) and all the good times (and there have been many of those too!) play through my mind and I wish I could slow time down. Since I can’t, I’ve spent some time making a list of the things I want her to know about several different topics. One of the most important of these is the truth about real love.
What I want her to grasp about love is rooted deeply in what I’ve learned through the Word of God.
First, we love because we are loved.
John said it simply, “Beloved, if God so loved us, so we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). God has loved us and so we love others. It’s simple but it isn’t easy! I want my girl to grasp this reality of God’s love for her and allow it to so infiltrate her life that she can’t help but love others the way He has loved her.
Second, love is a choice.
We say it all the time, I know. But the truth is, in this world where people fall in and out of love and where commitment is only as deep as how someone feels today, I pray my daughter understands love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision. We don’t always feel loving or loved, but we can choose to love no matter what. Paul told the Philippians his prayer was that their “love would abound more and more.” So our love grows when we stop allowing it to be dictated by how we feel and instead choose to love based on the truth of God’s Word and His love for us.
Third, love gives generously and humbly.
So much of life is about equal exchange … you do this for me and I’ll do this for you. But love doesn’t work that way. John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Love gives generously – just as God has given generously to us. Love serves humbly – just as Christ has modeled for us.
Fourth, love gives the benefit of the doubt.
This might be one of the hardest truths to grasp. But love believes the best, hopes for the best. Love offers the benefit of the doubt rather than looking for trouble or conflict. Love assumes the best not the worst. I love how Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Finally, love sustains us in life’s struggles.
Paul wrote, “we are are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). When life is hard and our strength is gone, the love of God is our strength. When we know and abide in His love, He equips us to walk with grace and confidence through every trial, every heartache, and every hardship life brings.
Of all the lessons she has learned and will learn in our home, my greatest desire is that she grasp the height and depth and width and breadth of God’s love for her and out of that awareness that she will genuinely, humbly, and generously love others.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
What is a lesson on love you want your girl to know? When we identify specific areas where we want to teach and guide our children, it helps us be more intentional in our conversations and actions with them. As you look at the list above, is there a particular area that stands out as one you want to emphasize in your home? If so, make a plan for doing so.
SOMETHING TO PRAY
Father, your love exceeds anything we can begin to grasp. But will you help me model a generous and sacrificial love? Give me a tender and patient heart with those in my home and outside it. Guide me to opportunities for talking with my daughter about what love really is and how the truest love is found only in you.
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Isaiah 43:4 “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.”
Jeremiah 31:3 “…the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
Jude 1:21 “…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”