Loving Wide Open

This process of parenting a child from another culture, language and heritage, has me constantly changing, questioning and fumbling. Many days it feels like chipping away at granite with a spoon.

I’m beginning to realize something. How being in relationship with other humans or creatures changes how we think and feel, and make decisions. My husband might make me angry, which causes a break in relationship. But because that connection is important to both of us, we work to repair the break. Someone gives or bends or apologizes. We are kind to others because we empathize and want to do the right thing. Our parents taught us this and because of that relationship, we believed them . We sacrifice sometimes for someone we love because that attachment is more important than our self survival mechanism. We react in sympathy and compassion to someone hurting because of our connections with other humans. These interconnections drive us to donate and volunteer and look out for the good of someone else. These attachments make us feel bad when we lie or hurt someone. We make decisions that preserve and further relationships, because to lose those hurts our hearts as well.

But what happens if this fundamental sense of connection is lost, or never formed? What if those bonds that form early in a nurturing environment, don’t form in a neglectful one? What happens is that people become disposable. Without attachment, self survival is the strongest player in the decision making process. Lying, manipulating, and deceiving don’t feel like the wrong thing because the break in relationship those things cause, doesn’t bother you and it feels like protection. The world becomes very small, encapsulating only you and your needs.

Now imagine those two worlds colliding. One part believing so strongly in connection and the other having no idea what that means or feels like. Imagine those ideas of permanence, connection, and relationship having an epic battle with impermanence,  self-focus, and self-protection. The weapons are consistency, kindness, grace, and justice against rage, and armor so thick as to be impenetrable around the soul. Imagine this battle being fought in every corner of your life, and maybe the most stubborn wins. If this does not sound difficult enough, let’s throw in a literal language and culture difference. This playing field is not even close to being level or fair. It slopes and twists, turning you upside down when you think you have finally found solid ground. It’s a little like bumper cars where you think you see an open space to head into and you are suddenly slammed from the side. This reality is true for both sides in this equation.

Sometimes love looks sweet and playful; rewarding. Sometimes love is cute puppies, rainbows and unicorns. Easy.

But sometimes love looks different. It has to. It is gritty and tenacious and stubborn; it fights, and it battles, and engages when it’s tired and worn to the bone. Scrappy. This love takes what you throw and stubbornly says, “Is that all you got? Damn straight I still love you.”  This love has to allow itself to be wounded, has to stay vulnerable. Has to stay open and absorb the pain so that the heart doesn’t become calloused and ineffective. This is hard. This is Jesus. And when I am more than tired and angry as heck, I ask Him for His strength to keep at this holy work of loving wide open. Somehow He gives it, and I find myself capable of more than I could imagine.






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