Something I have learned about myself over the last little while is that I can be quite selfish. Taking care of Mike full time has revealed selfishness in me I wouldn’t have realised otherwise. I delight in caring for Mike; he is my husband and I love him very much. But here is my question to myself, do I love me more? Ultimately, my needs are quite often first and foremost on my mind to be quite honest.For a while I had no problem giving up a lot of things in order to take the best care of my beloved. But when the novelty of that wore off and my inner child started throwing a hissy fit because she wasn’t getting what she wanted, I had to give my inner child a ‘time out’ and ponder what love really was about.
Jesus says something about love that strikes a chord in me. In John 14:13, he says, “Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus knew what He was talking about because He knew His future and the very reason He came to earth; to suffer the cruellest death on a cross for His friends…the greatest example of love. But in this verse, Jesus wasn’t just talking about the great love He had for his friends (and all of mankind); He was telling all mankind how they must love one another as well. In the verse right before it, he says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”When I was a child, I didn’t need to hear the words “I love you” to know that I was loved. The actions of those caring for me, my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, were enough for me to know I was loved. I also found out quickly that I didn’t have to do anything to earn their love. They just loved me for who I was because I belonged to them. They put aside their needs for mine and rearranged their lives to suit me…and that’s what most parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles do.
At the age of eighteen, our son Nathan announced that he was going to be a dad. After his big announcement, he showed us how ‘big’ he was by laying down his life for his new baby. He quit the high level hockey team he was on. He shelved any plans of going to college and/or traveling. He started getting up at the crack of dawn to go to a job he didn’t like in order to raise a beautiful baby girl. His daughter Leah knows she is well loved because his life revolves around her and she is the apple of his eye.Love is an action word. It means putting someone else before self; it’s about giving something up for another person and not expecting anything in return. When Mike first started needing help walking, and going up the stairs, and getting dressed and eating etc. we gained a new appreciation for care givers. We would quite often say, “God bless the April Cartwrights of the world!” April Cartwright is a women Mike went to elementary school with (public school as they say in Ontario) and is now a friend of both of ours on Facebook. She is a single parent of a daughter with Autism and she has had to give up everything for her daughter. Her daughter, now in her twenties needs constant care and attention and always will. Our friends, Michelle and Dave also have a daughter with special needs. Watching them with their daughter is a lesson in love. They are so patient and kind and I’m sure their daughter knows she is loved beyond measure and it’s inspiring to say the least.
My dad just returned from Malawi, Africa again where he, in his mid-seventies, still goes to feed orphans and drill wells. He and my mom, who founded Amazon Evangelism/Project Wellness (projectwellness.ca) have laid down their lives for their ‘friends’. Just like other people who have chosen to care of someone else’s child. Or like those caring for their own children, or an aging parent, or a sick friend. Or like the parents, sisters and brothers, children, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles and friends and me, who care for a guy named Mike with ALS.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2
Nathan and Mike with baby Leah. Leah is now three and a half.
My dad with Gerold in Malawi, Africa - check out the new Project Wellness Website at projectwellness.ca