Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning Love - Fruit of the Spirit Part 1

I thought we should examine each aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 from two different sources. First, what do our children teach us about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Second, what does God's word teach about these qualities?

Most parents will attest that they never knew exactly how strong love could be until they became a parent. I remember during the first few weeks after our daughter was born holding her as she was sleeping and weeping at the enormity of wanting so much to take care of her and yet not really knowing how to go about it. Somehow I think parental love takes on an almost fierce quality when the child it is bestowed on has special needs. Although we may not always understand our children ourselves, we will not tolerate anyone or anything that even hints of disregard, harm, or mistreatment. It is why I squirm every time I see someone use "special needs" to equate to silly or ignorant behavior. It is why there was mild outrage over President Obama's "slip of the tongue" with respect to the Special Olympics. That fierce love will also fight through any financial, bureaucratic, logistical, or prejudicial barrier to find or provide the right treatment, program, equipment, or professional to work with our children. They say one should never get between a mama bear and her cub...they ain't seen nothin' yet.

I think we also learn about love directly from our children. Even if they don't express love in "normative" ways, they do know love. I remember reading the book "The Five Love Languages..." while dating my husband and learning that his way of expressing love is by giving gifts. Our daughter does the same thing. She of her own initiative gives things to people she has made a connection to: a picture she drew, some flowers from our yard, a bead from her collection, etc. What she's saying as she hands out these trinkets is "I love you, I enjoy being with you, I want to spend more time with you". This child, who has required social skills training to learn how to share toys, has from a young age known how to express love. I should be so generous in my own expressions of love both to her and to others God has called me to love.


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