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Monday, April 26, 2010

Learning to be Loved

Note: This week’s three posts are an extended response to a comment from Russell Holloway (who consistently makes me think hard) on Foundations Part II, in which Russell asserts that love for God and love for man cannot exist apart from one another.

“We learn to love before we learn anything else.”
~ Unknown

Learning to be Loved

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?”
~ Isaiah 49:15 (NKJV)

The Greek language has four words for love: agape, philia, eros, and storge. Storge is the only one which doesn’t appear in the New Testament. It refers to natural affection, such as the love of parents—especially mothers—for their children.

There are certainly mothers who do not love their children, but it is wholly unnatural. Even the animal kingdom displays unusual protectiveness of mothers for their young. Completely tame animals will attack if their babes are threatened. If males will fight to the death for the right to procreate their offspring, then females will fight to the death to preserve their offspring.

My expertise on motherly love was learned by bearing, birthing and nursing five children. At birth their only consciousness was of themselves, their hunger, and separation from the mother under whose heartbeat they’d lived for nine months. Their dependence on my breast was supplemented by their dependence on my presence and familiar voice. By around six months of age, their love for me became disdain for strangers, sometimes even for Daddy.

Isaiah quotes the Lord asking if a mother can forget a nursing babe. I never could. Even leaving them home with Daddy for me to go grocery shopping was stressful. What would happen if anything prevented or delayed my return and we remained separated, since my little ones never had bottles? I didn’t have a moment’s peace until we were safely reunited. (Nursing mothers would understand. The rest of you will think me a little crazy. So be it.)

From the time they were conceived, I was transferring to my children not only the nutrients I was so conscious to take into my body, but my soul’s fierce love for them and for God. Even from within my womb, they came to know love in my prayers, in my songs of praise, from the love of God I was fed from the Bible. It was a love they later learned in my eyes and touch and language as I taught them of their Creator. ("Look! It’s the moon! God made the moon for you because He loves you.")

Being loved is the very first thing we have opportunity to learn.

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  1. Love is the sweetest treasure ever sis.

  2. In church today we sang of God's love being as fierce as a hurricane. That image stayed with me all day.

  3. Oh, Anne, what a beautiful post; what a lovely way to begin my Monday.

    The ferocious, unrelenting love of motherhood is something to behold. I knew I would love my children. I didn't know that love would run as deep, wide and protective as it does...or that it would last until now, when my son is 13. I didn't know that the protective bond never really weakens--it only changes form.

    God loves us like that. I'm convinced that ONLY a God who loves us like that would create us with the need for eight or so hours of unconsciousness a night--He knew He would be watching over us, night and day. Feeling His Presence, I rest easy, like a baby close to his mother.

    God bless you today. Rest easy, dear Anne.

  4. My friend Jerry likes to remind me that God does not have any grandchildren.

    A mother who conveys love to her children is so valuable. There are unfortunately too many parents today willing to sacrifice their children on the alter of self interest. Blessings to you Anne, and other parents, who look up into the sky and tell their children that the moon and the stars are love letters to them from our heavenly Father.

  5. What a cool thought: being loved is the first thing we have an opportunity to learn. And that we have to learn it amazes me.

    I miss having babies.
    ~ Wendy

  6. the comment concerning the moon caused me to remember the night i held Shannon. she was about 4 1/2 and i'd just removed her from her car seat. she was holding grasping her baby blanket with both hands but sucking on her thumb. she woke up when i pulled her thumb out of her mouth. (we had full moon that winter night) she pointed up to the moon and said something about it. i remember telling her that it was God's gift to her. her eyes got really big and the smile was worth it. thanks for the memory stone that just rolled out...

  7. Denise ~ Love is first. Love will be last. Love is greatest.

    T ~ "Fierce" as a hurricane? Really? I don't often use that particular adjective. I like that we both had it the same day. (And incidentally, I personally like plentifully using -ly words and adjectives, even if editors don't. ;D)

    Gwen ~ I never thought about the fact that sleep comes easily to me. I guess I've taken it for granted. And now, with your words, something as simple as sleep becomes a more treasured gift. Thank you for helping me see that blessing.

    Russell ~ Thank you. I'd actually insert each child's name, making that moon very personal: "God made the moon for Michaelle!" I often look upon a sea of faces, and marvel that God loves every one of them as much as He loves me.

    Wendy ~ I'm not sure if it's the quantity factor, or spending so much time with my kids to home school, but I've always felt comfortable with the pace of them growing up. I don't usually miss having a baby (my baby is 5), and I'm enjoying them at every age, even the 16 year old. I'm grateful for all the things God has used them to teach me, especially love.

    Bud ~ What a lovely memory. Funny how such small but significant moments get stored and retrieved. How delightful that God doesn't have to divide His time among many children, because He is fully present with each one of us, all the time, treasuring every single one of such moments.

  8. "Being loved is the very first thing we have the opportunity to learn."

    And feeling secure in that love.

    And children give us the first real opportunity to learn how to love, I think. Unconditionally.

    What a blessing you must be to your children!

  9. Sandra ~ As I'll bring out in tomorrow's post, I think unconditional love is learned from God's love. I think we can only love our children unconditionally if we know God's love. And as you point out, that is secure love indeed. (And thank you for your kind compliment. I'll tell my children you said so. I'm sure it's hard to see the forest for the trees.)


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