You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'love'.
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 entries.

If I were a witch…

  • Posted on August 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

In the last couple of months, I’ve watched all 8 seasons of Charmed. I didn’t much care for the Prue/Paige switch up. I didn’t much care for the way they axed out Cole. But I kept watching. Unlike the upheavals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I didn’t buy into it nearly as much after a while. I mean, I “get” the whole Paige deal, both from a practical angle and from a story angle. But, really, did they have to make her quite so consistently, persistently bratty?

The Cole thing really bugs me. To go ahead and spoil things, Cole starts out evil, then he falls in love with his “mark” and becomes good, then he becomes evil to save the one he loves, and then he becomes good by being stripped of his powers, and then he saves the one he loves and becomes evil again—this time through absolutely no fault of his own. And then they “kill” him for it. Except, dead isn’t so very much dead for him. He comes back, less evil, and tries to be good. But they’re just done with him.

The thing that brought Buffy to mind is that it was once revealed that Buffy’s two vampire romances were both metaphors for different kinds of abusive relationships. It was intentional. I suspect, on some level, the Cole thing was the same kind of deal. The message being that love can’t save someone who is abusive.

On the one hand, Cole reminds me a bit of another topic that grates. Cole will do anything to save his love. As a parent, I will do almost anything to help my children. Yet, I define help as being “help my children to be wholly and completely the best selves they can be” and not as “help my children to become normal.” That’s a distinguishing factor. I also define help as “do no harm,” which means I’m not going to risk their health to make them what I want them to be. I stress almost anything because there are trade-offs. I’d rather be poor and raise my children than rob a bank and give them wealth. If an attacker broke into our house and threated my children, then I believe I’d be able to kill to save them, but I could never be an assassin to earn our bread. Almost anything.

Cole doesn’t get the value of almost anything.

If I were a witch, it wouldn’t be like Charmed. I have a tenacious belief in free will. Being a werewolf or a vampire or a human being doesn’t make you a monster. What you choose to do with what you’re dealt makes or breaks you. You don’t have to be evil just because others say you are. You have a choice. Cole’s choices, while misguided, were driven by the greatest power this world knows: the power to love another more than the self. That can be nurtured. That can be harnessed. That’s the stuff of miracles.

I’m all for saving innocents or, rather, innocence. But I can’t help but think that Christ didn’t come to save the innocents. He came to save the guilty. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We’ve all sinned. We’re all fallen. None of us are truly innocent. But that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to be good and it doesn’t mean we’re not worth saving.

If I were a witch, I wouldn’t magically cure my children. I might try to write a spell that enables Alex to talk, but he’d talk as a person with autism, a person who is one version of autism. If I were a witch, I wouldn’t devote all my energies to saving innocents. I would devote my energies to helping people see the consequences of their choices, so they could make better choices. I would try to empower others, using magic to release the untapped potential in those I meet. But you don’t need magic for that; you need love—the kind of love that values others as much as or even more than the self. Then again, maybe that is magic, maybe it’s the best magic of all.

When Ben’s Fan Died

  • Posted on May 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

When Ben’s fan died, he’d just gone upstairs to go to bed. As per usual, he turned on his fan before crawling into bed. This time, however, the fan didn’t blow. The fan didn’t whir. When Ben’s fan died…it died silently. It made a bad smell and that was all.

When Ben’s fan died, he was noticeably upset. As per usual, he stomped around in his frustration, grunting and whining. This time, however, he understood that throwing a fit wouldn’t solve his problem, so he didn’t throw a fit. When Ben’s fan died…he let go of his anger and let himself be comforted and put to bed. I hugged him and kissed him and he accepted that this was the best I could do for the moment.

When Ben’s fan died, I didn’t give up. As per usual, I saw this as an opportunity to show my son that I understood and I cared. This time, however, I couldn’t “fix it” without help. I didn’t go to the store. I placed a call. When Ben’s fan died…his grandma Nonnie provided him with a new fan to use. I drove over to my mom’s house and picked up the freshly cleaned fan and drove right back home.

When Ben’s fan died, he didn’t go without. As per usual, those who loved him understood his needs. This time he needed something that would blow and whir, so he could go to sleep. He got exactly what he needed. When Ben’s fan died…he got a new fan that blew harder and whirred louder than before. He squealed with glee and thanked his Nonnie and his mommy and went back to bed and that was all.

Sleep well, Ben. I love you.

Midweek Music Break

  • Posted on February 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Like any art form, music is a form of communication.  For some of us, the lyrics—the words—are the most communicative aspect.  For others, the music itself has a voice of its own.

I wish I could say whether the music communicates the same message of compassion that the lyrics do, but for me the lyrics are enough.

Bullying is never okay. It should never be tolerated. Love is the ultimate renewable resource.

Mothers’ Weekend

  • Posted on May 10, 2011 at 2:33 PM

On Saturday, my cousin got married and, for the first time in a very long time, I went to a family function on my mom’s side of my extended family.  For the second time since the boys were born, I left the boys with Mark overnight.  I was gone for over twenty-four hours, and instead of taking Mark with me and leaving my mom with the boys (which we’ve done a whopping 6-8 times, mostly for advocacy training purposes and once for a couple’s getaway), I took my mom and left Mark.  The first time was last year, when my brother graduated from college, seeing some of my father’s side of my extended family in the process.

Now, some people might ask why I did not just bring Mark and the boys along.  Silly people.  Simply put, there was no place for all of us to stay and we couldn’t afford a family suite at a hotel.  Honestly, though, my kids can barely make it through church—and I’m not referring to “on good behavior,” but at all—let alone through a wedding and a reception.  It would have been bad for the boys and bad for the wedding and not worth the hassle.  So, I left the boys with Mark, and that was fine, but still…it’s a big deal for everyone involved.

I didn’t realize it when I decided to go, but it had been 15 years since I had last seen my cousins.  We were children, then—teenagers.  It’s been a long time, and we’ve all grown up and changed.  There’s so much of each other that we’ve missed.  But this was the right time to reconnect.  And it got me thinking…

People frequently say, in reference to my three children with autism, that it must be hard or some such thing.  And usually I shrug it off or try to explain.  But this—the distance that’s grown between myself and people who have been very important at other times in my life, the disconnectedness—that’s a sacrifice I regret.  It takes so much energy for me to be connected with people.  It takes so much energy to get through my day-to-day life.  It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s just that I can’t do both, not the way both deserve, and that I regret, because my children have to come first.  It’s sad to have missed so much, but it’s also the reality of my life.

So, back to the trip, which was great:  We got off to a bit of a late start, but we made up as much of the time as we could and hurried through our getting ready process.  We, along with the mother and father of the bride, arrived in good time.

The moment when I first saw my cousin—the sister of the bride—was absolutely wonderful.  I felt all lit up seeing her face, and seeing her light up as well.  She had many things to worry about, being the maid of honor, but she made time to spend with me, and that alone would have made the trip worthwhile.

My cousin made a fabulous bride.  Gorgeous, of course.  Oh, she was so beautiful!  And she was standing in the center of all that attention like she belonged there (being the bride, of course she did, but that’s not the point).  She seemed to feel comfortable there, surrounded by family and friends and God-only-knows-who.  I can’t help but think of the last time I saw her, and how uncomfortable she was being in the center of attention, of how uncomfortable I was and still am in such a spotlight.  She blossomed over the years.  In some ways, so have I, but not like that.  It was a truly wonderful, amazing, and joyous thing to see!

Throughout the reception, I had the opportunity to spend quality time with both of my cousins, which is what I wanted most, and it was wonderful to reconnect.  I got to meet the groom and I also got to meet my other cousin’s fiancé and it was just a wonderful experience.  They’re both great guys and I’m happy for my cousins’ happiness with their lives.

That night, we went home and I also got to spend some time with my uncle and aunt.  I got to see a side of my uncle that I never really saw, which was also wonderful.  He’s kind of a gruff man and—considering my take-them-as-they-act sense of perception—I never really saw the subtle undertones to his personality.  Seeing him dancing with his daughter (not well, but joyfully and proudly) was a window into something else entirely.  By that point in the evening I’d already suspected that there were those undertones that I had missed, but seeing them dance and seeing him smile was like watching a window opening.  After that, I was able to pick up a lot more of those undertones, and it was kind of like getting to know my uncle all over again.

The next morning, I saw even more of that.  We got to talking about the boys, and while my mother struggled to get him to understand a particular detail, I was able to step in and express it in another way, a way that allowed him to understand.  It felt good to watch the shift from ignorance to understanding.  Not that I blame him for the ignorance—He has never met the boys nor has he had any professional experience with people with autism, so how could he know?—but seeing that opening…priceless.

On our way back, we took a leisurely route that my mother called an “adventure.”  It was different, outside the comfort zone, but hey—I associate “adventure” with an adrenaline rush, and I get more adrenaline from playing with my boys—but to her it was an adventure, and I respect that.  She was outside her comfort zone.  It kind of made me realize that I’ve lived so long outside my comfort zone lately that I’m not even sure where it is any more.  I’m not sure if that means my comfort zone has expanded that much, or if I’ll have to re-find it one of these days.  This, of course, was Mother’s Day, so I was able to spend some leisurely time driving with and talking with my mother.  Precious.

Then, we came home.  The boys were so glad to see me!  All the sweeter for the missing-them part of the trip.  The hugs, the kisses, and all the ways they show their love were just perfect.  Willy made me a card and Alex and Ben had PECS cards for me in their backpacks.  So, they made it through, not just me being gone but also through the adaptations that were necessary.

The boys are getting older.  They are more able to adjust.  And seeing how they’re growing and maturing is the best Mother’s Day present of all.

The Little Things

  • Posted on March 1, 2010 at 7:14 PM

Little things seem to be undervalued.  Even the label little things implies insignificance.  Not too long ago a little thing set my world reeling.

 “I love you,” I said, sincerely but also distractedly.

“Yeah, but sometimes I wonder why,” my husband responded.

I stopped in my tracks.  Distractions…gone.  Words…gone.  Thoughts…gone.  Seconds passed and the only thing in my conscious mind was a fleeting thought to count in anticipation of a response, something I do with my boys when there is an apparent delay in processing.  But this time the delay was my own.

A response surfaced, along with a tragic sense of…something.  The response was completely inadequate yet completely true: “If you don’t know, I can’t explain.”

In twelve days Mark and I will celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary.  We’ve had our ups and downs, our yelling matches, our rough patches, and our breaking points.  We’ve survived them all.  Yet, depression and the words of others eat away at us.

These moments come and I’m never prepared for them.  I can no more put into words why I love Mark than I can put into words why I love my children or anyone else.  Love doesn’t have a why.  Love goes deeper than all the whys we’ve ever put into words.  I can tell you why I like Mark, and even why I sometimes don’t like Mark.  I cannot tell you why I love him.  I just do.  I always will.

The tragic sense of…something lingers.  Again, there are no words for this.  Loss, sorrow, and regret…these words are part of it, but they’re as inadequate as my response.  I mourn for that part of him that is lost in the depression, where the light my love shines cannot reach.  I regret the busyness that keeps me moving and going and trying, working towards a dream that seems both too big to accomplish and too necessary to fail to accomplish.

Somehow I have to express to him (and others who find room for doubt) the why for something that has no why.  Perhaps this will be enough:

This morning, as Alex was just getting his morning started he slipped a DVD too far down his finger and it got stuck and started to swell.  I tried to get it off, but it would not budge.  I buttered it, but it would not budge.  I tried to break the DVD, but it would not break.  Mark was sleeping, so I lead Alex—who was fussing about the pain in his finger and wasn’t I going to fix it, now please!—upstairs and woke Mark up with a hasty plea and he removed the DVD without hurting either Alex or the DVD.

It seems little all by itself.  But there are many strings of little things over these last twelve years.  All together they prove to me, if only to me, that we complement each other.  We fit.  We are two “wholes” that make a better “whole” (versus two “halves” that make a “whole,” which is a phrase that I feel inaccurately describes people).  Our relationship isn’t perfect.  Our lives aren’t perfect.  We’re not perfect.  But we’re the perfect “wholes” for each other.  We enrich and complete each other.  All the struggles, the complications, the disagreements, the deficits, and the inadequacies mean nothing compared to this.

Together we are whole and the little things prove it so.

On Why Pity Isn’t Charity

  • Posted on February 6, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Recently I had a discussion with an individual who described charity as giving that is motivated by pity, and used this definition in a Christian context.  I tried to explain to this individual why this was not the case.  Yet, this form of “charity” is so engrained in the American culture that she could not see the distinction I was making.  So, I’ll try here in hopes of being understood.

“Charity” as the word is used in the King James Bible is synonymous with Christian love.   Specifically, charity is defined as:

The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ.  It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive.

Holy Bible, King James Version, 1979, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“Charity” when defined as Christian love is never pity.  Pity involves a sense of superiority:  when you pity someone, you look down on them and think they are somehow less than yourself; less fortunate, less talented, less valuable.  Less.

Matthew 25:34-40

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and too thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

While “charity” is not used in the Bible as an action, if it were to be an action, then this would be the actions of which it would speak.  The phrase the least of these my brethren is misleading, apparently.  Some people associate it with pity, because if they are the least, then are they not less than us?  Jesus, who tells the parable, is NOT agreeing that those who are in need are, as so many perceive them, of less worth than those who give; He is comparing the least of these my brethren with a King and as brethren of the King.  Giving unto them is not an act of pity; it is an act of charity.  It is not done because you pity them and look down on them; it is done because you love them and feel compassion for them.

Compare this passage with the following hypothetical scenario:

A woman walks into the church with a Crockpot of hot, home-made soup.  She sets up her offering on the table and gets to work preparing the space for the homeless who will be coming in.  It is 5:30 and very cold outside.  The doors are locked, but she hears the shuffling of people on the outside.  The doors will open at 6, so they have to get busy to get everything ready.

At 6 pm, the pastor opens the door and the stiff, cold people wrapped in layers of poorly mended and unclean clothes shuffle in.  He lines the people up along the buffet so they each can get their dish, while the woman busies herself filling bowls with the hot, savory soup.  The gentleman next to her is putting together sandwiches, some turkey and some ham.

“It’s so sad,” the soup lady says to the sandwich guy.

“I know.  Everyone’s shivering.  We should have opened the door earlier,” the guy says.

These words startle the lady.  “But we weren’t ready yet.”

He smiles at the young man who just made it up to them.  The soup lady hands him a bowl, and prepares another.  The sandwich guy asks, “Would you like turkey or ham?”

“Ham, please,” he says in a gravelly voice that sounds like it doesn’t get much use.  The man takes one of the sandwiches heaping with ham, and asks him whether he’d like mayonnaise or mustard.  Before the young man can answer, the soup lady pipes in, “You see, it’s just so sad that all these poor people can’t find work.”

The young man’s cheeks color, but she doesn’t see him.  His gaze goes dark and his shoulders slouch.  He takes his sandwich and his soup, his milk and his apple, and even his little cookie into a far corner and eats in silence in the draftiest part of the church hall, while families and individuals gather under the blowing heat from the vents.

When everyone is served, the sandwich man tries to talk to him.  But the young man shakes his head.  “She don’t know,” he says.  “She don’t think.”

It’s not an accusation, but his voice is full of sorrow.  Neither of them will ever know that this man works twelve hours day, six days each week, working two back-breaking jobs.  The soup lady couldn’t imagine it.  Yet, he comes to the soup kitchen, because he doesn’t leave himself enough to have more than two meals a day.  Even working so hard, he cannot afford to because so much of that money he works so hard to earn has to go to his mother’s medical bills and his children’s tuition into the one private school that takes children with special needs.

The sandwich man tried to show love; the soup lady only felt pity.  Pity is not about love.  Pity is about making yourself feel better by exposing yourself to the misery of those who are so much worse off than you.  They’re not people; they’re certainly not brethren.

This is why I see pity as being the cousin to bullying, not to love.  Bullying is about making yourself feel better, too.  Instead of the passive harm you do to people when you pity them, you’re harming people actively, intentionally.  That’s the only difference I see between pity and bullying.  You’re harming people either way; you’re looking down on people either way.

Love isn’t about you.  Love is about giving yourself to others.  You may be called to give your heart or your time, your money or your ear.  But you are called to give.  Love—the pure love of Christ—is about recognizing the humanity in others and celebrating it.  You give not out of obligation, not because you feel sorry for them, but because you recognize their need and want to share yourself and your possessions with a fellow human being.  That’s charity.  Pity and charity should never be confused.