“Mommy, do you still love Daddy?”
The question took me by surprise. I had navigated through the aftermath of the divorce as well I could, but I wasn’t prepared for this.
I looked at the little faces staring up at me, where I could see the confusion and hurt that filled their dark eyes. What was I supposed to tell them? They were too little to know the hurt and betrayal that ended our marriage. I had struggled to keep my pain private, and not expose the reasons behind the divorce, but their deep questions kept probing for answers.
“Well, Honey, what does the Bible say? We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and Daddy is my neighbor. So, yes, I do still love Daddy.”
My answer satisfied them, and they went on playing their game on the living room floor.
I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me.
What does it mean to love him – the man I was married to for seven years, the father of my children? He had broken my heart and our little family – and even though my explanation had worked for my boys, I was still at a loss as to how to actually go about loving him.
My heart has warred over this question in the years since he first asked me, but it wasn’t until this week did I look at how I could truly love their father, and really set out to find my own answers. I wanted to look at a familiar passage of the Bible in a new light. So without wanting to change the words of Scripture, I’m sharing with you how I am learning to apply the Love Chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – in my own life…
If I only bite my tongue instead of bad-mouthing their father, but do not have love for him, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I am a good ex-wife and take our children to buy him gifts for his birthday and let him have more time on Thanksgiving, and if I seek out his opinion on a discipline issue, but do not have love for him, I am nothing.
Love is patient… when they are late and your children are wondering where they are.
Love is kind… and wishes them a happy Father’s Day, even when the words catch in your throat.
It does not envy… the fun that your children have with the other parent.
It does not boast… when your children confide their little hearts in you.
It is not proud… when you feel like the better parent.
It is not rude… even when you find yourself fighting an emotional custody battle in court.
It is not self-seeking… These are not just your children. Even when you no longer need him in your life, they do.
It is not easily angered… when you hear the things he says to the children about you.
It keeps no record of wrongs… It is impossible to forget, but healing begins when you release all of your hurt in forgiveness.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth… And the truth is that those little ones love you both so very much.
It always protects… their relationship with their father.
Always trusts… that you are parenting together to raise amazing human beings.
Always hopes… the best for the father of your child.
Always perseveres… for the sake of the precious little lives you were both given.
Love never fails.
But where there are weekend visits, they will cease; where there are parent/teacher conferences, they will stop; where there are hurts, time will pass away. For we do our part in co-parenting, but when the years fly by, our little boys will be grown. When our marriage ended, I talked about my hurt, I thought about what could have been, I reasoned through the pain. But when I became a single mom, I put my broken heart behind me and allowed it to heal. For now we see our small children’s reflection in a mirror; then we shall see the young adults that we have raised together. Right now I can’t see how it will all work out; but then I will look across at him when our boys have their own children, and I will know that it was all worth it.
And now these three remain: faith in what is good, hope – even when my faith is weak, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(Photo credit – NZ Portraits by Joanne)
How about you? I would love to hear how you have set about loving “your neighbor” in your own life.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Your encouragement, love, and support mean more to me than you’ll ever know!
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