Friday, January 8, 2016

Five Basic Lessons of Unconditional Love

unconditional love

One week down, 51 more to go! How was your first week of 2016? We ended 2015 with a trip to the McKlevey Transplant Center at Emory. Steve began the evaluation process for a double lung transplant. He didn't get listed yet. He goes back in three months for further evaluation. When we married 30 years ago, I thanked God (and still do) for someone who loves me in my "condition". I never, for one minute, considered my health would ever be better than his. Life's surprises makes the five basic lessons of unconditional love even more important.

I accepted my abnormalities early in life. I liberated myself in 2010 when I shared my story in Labeled by Humanity, Loved by God. Birth defects are humbling. Birth defects are challenging. Birth defects are mentally absorbing. Sometimes, even after 54 years, my feet and leg deformities are wildly unimaginable although they are visibly present at the bottom of my body. Seeing is truly believing! Seeing is an immediate reality check of the harshest kind.

Disabilities are more generally accepted today than 50 years ago but still categorized poorly.  I watch my husband struggle uncomfortably to fit in with his new-found requirement for oxygen supplementation. I've overcome the stares of a perpetual limp from curious and rude people. I'm deeply pained he has to endure the torture and breathlessness of a chronic lung disease coupled with feeling inadequate due to human standards.

Our goal for our children is unconditional love. The one thing we pray our children will never do is make others feel degraded or less for any reason. Here are five basic lessons of unconditional love we instilled: 
  • Different is good. Diversity was cool in our home before it became a popular buzzword. 
  • Compassion not pity.  Did you know compassion and pity are synonyms? Both convey sympathetic feelings for others, however, pity has a second definition which is most familiar in our society. Pity is a cause for regret or disappointment. Pity should be avoided because most often it comes across as sadness or misfortune. I am always amazed at how my struggles create so many blessings.
  • Wear a smile. A smile is so much more comforting than that furrowed brow frown. Since I have exploited myself and Steve has been sick, I've been greeted with way too many sad faces. Caring is revealed with a happy face. Wear your love for humankind by greeting others with a smile. 
  • Do not stare, gawk or crane. When I share my story with groups, I laugh at myself. I've become so used to people staring at me, I get offended when they don't. I wonder what's wrong with these people? For heaven sake, LOOK at me! That is a joke. I really don't enjoy being stared at for the wrong reasons. I believe our necks should be used most often to bow before Jesus in honor and praise.
  • Take time for all. Individuals are put into our lives for various reasons. We can glean something from every person we meet. Understanding people is a full-time job.  Judgement is quicker and easier than working to really know someone but judgement could cost us a blessing.
When I'm on the receiving end of too many stares or harsh word and forget my greater purpose, I cling to 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me...

Unconditionally 365,

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