“If I feed and clothe and bathe and tuck in my foster kids with stories, hugs and kisses, but do not love them, I am only going through the motions. If I take them to school and help them with homework and attend parent-teacher conferences but have not love for them, I am nothing. If I play games with them and go to team meetings and rearrange my schedule around them but do not love them, I fail.” ~ A Foster Parents’ Paraphrase of I Corinthians 13:1-3
I felt like today was a good day for me in loving my foster kids. I invested heavily. The problem is that the day after days like today I often don’t even want to talk to them — I just want a break, and they’re ready for Intense Attention Part Two! And really, this applies to relationships of every sort. Sometimes loving comes easily and is a pure joy, but honestly, sometimes it can be draining!
Love is so much more than an emotion, I know that. Love is action. It’s doing what’s best for others. But it’s also more than just action. Love is attitude. It’s doing what’s best for others even if it’s hard or tiring or not your most favoritest thing to do, and not begrudging them for it, and doing it with joy, again and again every day. And that kind of love is beyond mere human capability — at least this human’s capability.
And I wonder if (and hope that) there’s a little bit of love even in self-preservation. If I cannot love these children well tomorrow if I don’t take at least a little bit of time for myself today, isn’t having a cup of tea right now really the most loving thing to do, long term, even if they’re pouting because I won’t play yet another game with them?
And then I think of Jesus who gave so selflessly, his all, his very life! And I think that maybe that cup of tea could wait until after they go to bed. It’s a conflicting feeling, wanting tea and wanting to be holy. Not that they’re mutually exclusive. You know what I mean.
But even Jesus had to eat, and even Jesus went away to lonely places away from the crowds. And in those times he prayed and he spent time with those who were close to him, those who were maybe a little easier to love. And his strength was restored to love and love and love some more. So perhaps now really is the time for tea, tea and prayer and restoration.
Yes, I think that’s exactly what time it is.