Finding the creative energy to put thoughts down in a blog is always tougher for me when the pace of life speeds up. I find myself racing through each day knocking out as many tasks as possible in order to keep up with my written and unwritten to-do list. I love the busyness of this season of life, it feeds my “get ‘er done” personality, but it does leave me scratching my head wondering where my time has gone.
This year I find myself more intimately faced with that very question, “Where has time gone?”
“Idleness makes hours pass slowly and years swiftly.
Activity makes the hours short and the years long. ”
Most recently, I was forced to contemplate this question as I sat in church watching and listening to Honorable Son #1 speak.
This is a year of changing life seasons. Honorable Son #1 graduates high school in June. It is hard for me to believe that we have made it through 12 years of schooling(actually 13 when you count Kindergarten). Way back, in the fall of 2004, his education journey began. Dear Husband and I made a non-conventional decision to home school. This path was one we both knew very little about, but felt called to pursue. Now, it seems in the blink of an eye, Honorable Son #1(and me, his #1 teacher) are coming to the end of this joint path.
A little more than a month ago our church held Youth Sunday, an event in which the youth of our church take over all the duties of the church service; ushers, greeters, readers, and one high school aged student is asked to give the sermon. Honorable Son #1 was asked to fulfill the sermon duty this year.
While he approached the event with a calm, confident, reflective and researching attitude, I on the other hand was filled with many more unnerving emotions. It wasn’t that I didn’t have confidence in his abilities, no, I had seen his ease in public speaking and knew his gift of talk. Yes, the boy was born talking…well not literally, but almost. Before he even spoke his first word he found ways to communicate. At only a few months old as I would carry him back to his bedroom he would blink both eyes at me. I had no idea why until one day after he blinked I looked up to see our smoke detector light was blinking. I didn’t even know the smoke detector had a signal light, but this tiny little one didn’t miss it and was compelled to communicate his findings to me.
So as I sat in the church pew for all three services that he gave his sermon, I found myself looking up at this now grown up boy speaking on the topic of love.
His sermon spoke to the idea that love is very difficult to define, how we use words as tools to define things. After speaking about human beings and their need for tools with words being a tool, his sermon continued like this:
“The definition of a word doesn’t usually become all that problematic when speaking about palpable things in the world around us, and often times, those are the sorts of things we’re engaging in conversation about. It’s difficult to change or refute the definition of, for example, a bicycle. You physically know the appearance of a bicycle, two wheels, a seat, some handle bars, pedals, maybe it’s puce and you don’t really like that too much, but it’s still a bicycle. There’s also the sensation a bicycle gives you, you sit, and sort of perhaps lean forward and move your legs in a particular fashion, you know, once you’ve learned you never forget. Though some people might have positive emotions tied to riding a bicycle, and some might have negative emotions (like myself), the experience of bicycle riding is still just that. Additionally, although you might analyze such an object on different scales, this combination of substance, and experience ultimately culminate as described by the ‘bicycle’. The word isn’t likely to change or fall out of use, as it is an effective descriptive tool that gets to the heart of what we want when we talk about a bike.”
“However, issues arise when attempting to deal with more abstract concepts like freedom, or love. Such concepts lack any substantive characteristics, unlike our bicycle. There are only general feelings associated with love.”
He went on to speak about feelings of love being very different based on individual experiences, some positive and others unhealthy and negative, making the definition of love very different for each individual, but, at the same time, assuming that everyone else’s definition of love is just like ours.
“At this point we’ve outlined, not only our tendency to define love as what is convenient to us, often to the detriment and almost always without regard for others, as well as the fact that in doing so, we’ve compromised the nature of love as an effective communicative tool. This entire convoluted mess of definition could just be avoided if we had some substance that constituted it, like our puce bike, rather than simply playing fast and loose with the feelings it produces. Thus, the question I originally posed once again comes into focus. What is love? I, much to your chagrin, I’m sure, can’t tell you.”
“I can tell you that there was man, long ago, who was born in Bethlehem. He sought out the sick, the unwanted, the dirty, the diseased, and the downtrodden. He made enemies of the most powerful men within his community. He bore a crown of thorns. He carried a cross and hung by the nails in his hands until he died, likely of shock, blood loss or dehydration. He never seemed to define love in a way that was at ALL convenient for him, in fact, quite the opposite. I can tell you that takes SOME kind of substance.”
As he finished he held up his Bible.
“I can’t tell you what love is…the person in the pew beside you can’t tell you what love is….the echoes of our culture can’t tell you what love is…the voices in you head can’t tell you what love is…”
“But the pages in this book can SHOW you.”
“What is love.”
It was an emotionally surreal feeling to sit listening to this young man speak about a loving God. Just 19 years earlier, when he was simply a stirring beneath my heart, I prayerfully dedicated myself to raising this child to know his heavenly Father. Many, many times I fell short, but each day through repentance and patient prayer, our crooked and bumpy path, lit with God’s loving promises, led us both to a closer understanding of “What love is.” My heart overflows with gratitude, and my eyes with joyful tears, at having the opportunity to parent this child of God and experience a greater understanding of true love. I look forward to the continued journey.
May you all be blessed with a better understanding of “What is love.”
Grammy, Honorable Son #1, Me, Grumpy