November 12, 2012

You can LOVE, tolerate and teach.

There is ONE principle that every mother must learn quickly and completely-- it is THIS...
Everything we do must begin with love and kindness.

These are foundational principles that proceed ANY teaching, any discipline and any relationship.  If you can not love someone as he is, you can never teach them to become better.  If you do not love, you cannot even SEE who someone really is.  Without love you are blinded by your own defensiveness and prejudice.  Learning to love and be loved is one of the primary purposes of this earthly life.  We become more like Christ as we LOVE others and we become darkness as we hate or condemn others.

As I've learned about loving, I've been humbled.  Often the child behaving the worst is the child hurting the most.  Hurting children need more love not more condemnation.  Love them!

If we teach our children right and wrong principles and fail to teach them the underlying principle of LOVE, we have ultimately failed.  Christ ate with sinners, he loved them.  Everyone Christ associated with was a sinner-- we ALL are.  He was the most condemning of hypocritical church leaders.  Christ also taught men how to live.  He said to the women caught in adultery two things.  First, that he did not condemn her.  Second, that she should go her way and sin no more.  You can love and teach.  Mothers armed with knowledge are useless without hearts filled with love.  Nobody can hear what you say when what you are screams so loudly.  But there is much you can say with a heart full of love.

In my recent posts I have spoken out against what I view as harmful, yes even evil, principles and ideals.  I was not hateful or condemning or unkind.  I was talking about evil principles NOT evil people.  I think it is important that we are able to discuss these things.  I have spent YEARS writing about the importance of loving our children and our neighbors.  I would hope that whatever your political or religious leanings you would agree that abortion is too common, and that it is important to teach our children to be careful with their sexuality, to be careful of the chains of addiction, to watch for deceptive advertising in all of it's most clever forms.  We all teach these principles to our children.

I would stand right beside you and support YOUR right to discuss issues that important to you.  I would not call you hateful because you disagree with me.  Most people in America today understand and appreciate dialog on both sides of the issues.  I hope YOU tolerate those who disagree with you as readily as you tolerate those who walk beside you.  (Matthew 5:43-44)  I find GREAT hypocrisy in some "tolerant" people.

I APPLAUD modern-day advances in tolerance and kindness.  As a society we have come far!  Thank God for the civil rights movement.  Thank God for women's rights.  Thank God that so many of yesterday's hidden evils are being brought forward and talked about.  We have come a long way.  Child abuse, domestic violence, racism, sexism, addiction, and yes, even sexual discrimination are all evils that we have fought against in our society.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Let us continue to embrace these principles.

Believing in tolerance does NOT mean that I must endorse all behavior.  It is possible to love the sinner and still believe in SIN.  We are ALL sinners and yet, sin is real.  It is possible to boldly teach correct principles and gently embrace difference.  We must be firm in our understanding and gentle in our application.

I have a large family.  My days are spent learning to love imperfect people, myself included.  There are many times throughout the day that I show compassion while holding firm to my values.  I understand the toddler who is sobbing because she wants a certain toy.  I love her, but I would still teach her to share.

My children are not evil because they want to stay up late each night or spend all day on mind-numbing video games.  I am not HATEFUL because I teach them principles of health and encourage them to spend their time wisely. I am not condemning or hateful of other children who play violent M rated video games, when i teach my children to avoid them.

I will teach my children to brush their teeth, I will stand firm in principles of hygiene, and I will still love them with fuzzy, yellow teeth.  My four year old just told the dentist, "Sometimes I'm tricky.  I tell my mom I did brush my teeth when really I didn't."  I adore that child.  I can love her where she is and continue to teach her healthy principles.  Of course you can teach principles and still love people who don't embrace those principles.

Being firm in principle DOES NOT equal hate.  You can love and teach at the same time.  I have said MANY times on this blog- if you cannot teach kindness and hard work, pick kindness.  Kindness and love are values that trump.  If you can't be kind and firm-- just be kind.

I practice what i preach every day of my life.  I am not perfect at this yet, but I see my weakness.

Someday, perhaps, I will have a daughter who gets pregnant at an inconvenient time.  Perhaps she will consider abortion.  I hope I hold her close.  I hope I hold her closer as she struggles with her decision.  I hope by that point we have a relationship that is gentle and defined enough that she would come to me.  And, if ultimately she does decide to abort, I hope I am there for her-- to comfort and to love and to help her heal.  Not to stand by pointing a condemning finger.  If I had a child who struggled with same-gender attraction I would love them just the same.  Life is all about choices.  Although I feel strongly that we MUST teach, I feel even more strongly that we must LOVE first.

Honestly, I believe that evil is tricky and deceiving.  I believe that it hurts those tangled in it's web MORE than it hurts society as a whole.  Perhaps this is an offensive analogy, but I believe those who are caught in the web of addiction (substance abuse or sexual in nature) are similar to people caught in abusive relationships.  These friends return again and again to lifestyle choices that leave them bruised and hurting.  I feel compassion for these people, not hate.  I feel anger towards the abuser.  I hate addiction.  I think we should teach our children the REAL affects of addiction so that they can choose wisely.

Similarly, I see the victims of abortion as both the fetus and the mother.  Yes, I am Pro-Life, but I am not advocating less choice.  I am advocating INFORMED choices, supported choices, TRUE choices.  Women who choose abortion should feel like they have a choice.  They should know the REAL effects of their choice and they should see REAL alternatives.  Knowledge is powerful.

I can teach my children, but I cannot force them to live the choices I choose for them.  I learned that trying to dress my daughters for kindergarten-- they have minds of their own.  I love that about my children!  I will teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.  I hope that as they choose they will feel me CLOSE.  I hope that I have taught them FIRST that they are loved and that they are good.

I wish that i could open my heart to you, that you could see inside.  I wish that you could feel how honestly I love others.  It is intrinsic in my nature and something I have spent years developing.  As an observer of people, I have noticed that loving families last.  Strict, condemning, military like families seem to have more obedient toddlers, perfectly reverent teenagers and absolutely rebellious young adults.  I advocate love.

If you have a child that is straying from the path of life you would choose for them, I would say-- JUST LOVE THEM.  Hopefully by now you have taught them what you believe, stop teaching and pray for more love.  We all could use more love.  I believe that love changes people.  Charity never faileth.  I believe in a Savior who inspires by love.  I believe in Satan who condemns and rejects.  Christ says, "You are so good you can be better."  Satan says, "You are worthless, you are evil, you are ruined."  I pray that as mothers we have eyes to see the goodness in our children and our neighbors, no matter the blaring weakness.

I'll say it again-- I believe that there is right and wrong, good and evil.  I believe that there are absolute principles that we must teach our children.  But, i do not believe that there are very many people that fall into the absolute category.  We are all a mixture of good and bad.

I have a friend that cautions against using the words black and white because of the horrible connotation they suggest leading back to slavery and white supremacy.  I have thought much about his caution and concluded-- there may be black and white principles (maybe not) but I have yet to meet ONE black or white person.  We are all different shades of tan.  It is important that I do not condemn you for your beliefs and it is just as important that YOU do not label me as a hateful bigot because I advocate caution and teaching.

Love is foundational, but love is NOT all we need.  We MUST love first-- and we must teach correct principles.  We can do both.  We can tolerate without endorsing.  We can love the person and hate the sin.

Have you ever had a friend that struggles with addiction?  Have you looked into their eyes and have you seen their suffering soul?  I have.  Have you ever felt an overwhelming love pour over you?  Have your eyes filled with tears and have your arms longed to pour love and comfort into their very beings?  I have.  And, as I have seen my struggling friends, as I have been filled with overwhelming love, I have also been filled with HATE for the evil that was strangling them.  I HATE addiction.  I hate drugs.  I hate evil that rips at men's souls.  You can hate evil and love people at the same time.  I know it.
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