Letting Go of the Agenda and Choosing to Love

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It happened in the middle of what I call, “The Great Cold of 2014.”

All four of my kids were sick, including my youngest who was still a baby at the time.

I let one of my daughters sleep in late to make up for a near-sleepless night thanks to the stuffy nose.

At about 5 a.m., this daughter had shone a flashlight in my face and tearfully announced that she hadn’t slept all night and she’d never get any sleep so she’d fall asleep at school and never make it to ballet…..and the world was just absolutely going to end!

I’m not the most compassionate nurse of a mom anyway.  Seeing as how that was about the bazillionth time a child had woken me up in that one night, I had to muster some grace for the end of this night shift. I had spent most of my night slathering on Vicks, refilling water bottles, rocking a baby and fetching more tissues.

So I went through the motions one more time:

Walk the child back to bed.

Vicks—rub, rub, rub.

Hand tissues.

Hand plastic bag for placing used tissues inside instead of dumping them on the floor next to your bed (please and thank you). 

Refill water bottle.

Speak truth: The world is not about to end. If you cry, you will feel worse.  You have not been awake all night; I have and I can assure you that you were asleep for some of it.

Place hand on child’s head, smooth back hair, reassure her that she does not have a fever, and pray for her to sleep.  Dear God, please let her sleep.

Make it back to the bed in time to fall asleep before the next child wakes up an hour later.

So, that morning, I woke her up late.  “Twenty minutes until you need to be outside waiting for the bus.”

Here’s breakfast.

Here are clothes.

Here are tissues.

Lunchbox in backpack.  Book in backpack.  Zip it up!

Brush your teeth and I’ll brush your hair while you do that.  Saves time.

But then I paused in the rushed rhythm of this morning blitz and looked at her in the mirror.  She was still crying and was a mess of red-faced blotchy miserableness.

I could push her out that door to meet the bus.

I’m a workaholic.  I’d said it to her already that morning, “No fever.  No throwing up.  This is just a cold. You’ll feel better in an hour.”

But something in me stopped the stampede of my pushy, workaholic, drill sergeant self all over the tender heart of this beloved girl.

I heard it: this strong voice telling me to just stop right there and Love her.

The day before, I had read this in Pathway to Purpose:

“It is a cure for an affliction may of us have, which my friend calls destination disease. That great phrase describes being more concerned about getting to our destination than in finding delight on the journey. Learning to love causes us to linger in the company of others and find enjoyment and companionship along the way” (Katie Brazelton).

Learning to love isn’t just a begrudging necessity of this Christian life, a small blip in the journey on to bigger and better purposes and plans.

Loving others is Christ’s command.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12 NIV).

Loving others is what we’re here to do.  It is the great purpose.  It is the great design.

Am I too busy pushing my agenda in this moment to show God’s love and grace?

Katie Brazelton writes this in Pathway to Purpose also:

“Love, then, is spending ourselves, investing ourselves, in the daily and eternal well-being of others” (pp. 64-65).

I could have pushed that daughter out the door to the school bus and she’d have survived the day.

But that wouldn’t be loving her, not at that time and not in that way. This child not a hookie-playing, school-skipping, excuse-making kid. She’s a good girl and a diligent student who was sick, got too little sleep, and felt rotten.

I love her and I wanted her to know that I love her.pathwaytopurpose

So, I sent two kids out to the bus instead of three.

I wrote a note to her teacher.  I made her a cup of tea.

An hour later, she felt a bit better.  She still had a cold, but she said she was ready to go to school.

I drove her in, and she said it to me twice on the way, “Thanks for taking care of me, mom.”

Don’t we all need love like that at times, the kind that gives space and grace, the kind that chooses tenderness over toughness?

Originally published September 12, 2014


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