Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love Always Protects

When my little Allie girl was born and met her two older brothers for the first time I remember whispering to her, 

"Baby girl, you've got TWO brothers to love and protect you.  They will tease and toughen you up, but they will have your back.  And for that, you are truly blessed!"

I grew up with an older brother.  And while he did his fair share of teasing and beating me up, he also showed me tender love and absolutely protected me.  Especially as I got older, making sure I was treated well by "boys" and shielding me from many of the worldly pressures young girls face.  He and I have a special relationship, one that I've always been very thankful for.  I'm sure there were times he wished that he had had a brother, someone to wrestle and be rambunctious with.  And I'm sure he grew tired of my girly, dramatic ways.  Yet, he always was and has continued to be a kind brother to me.  He has loved and protected me for the past 33 years. 

So understandably, I long for my Allie-girl to be loved and protected by her brothers as well.  Tonight I caught a precious glimpse of my two young boys doing just that.

It's cold here, very cold.  And so my kids are bouncing off the walls.  After building a fort and telling silly stories inside of it, they all started to get antsy.  They couldn't keep their hands and legs off each other, wrestling, and doing whatever they could to get out their pent up energy from being inside all day.  I instinctively knew that if I didn't channel their energy I would have chaos on my hands.  So, I did what I often do when they get like this...

I made them run laps inside the house.

We have a split level and so there is one step down into our family room and one step back up on the other end that leads into our dining room and kitchen.  They start in the kitchen and run to the first step, jump down it and run through the living room, and then jump up the second step into the dining room, which then leads back into the kitchen.  They run this loop again and again and again.  Sometimes I time them.  Sometimes we race.  Sometimes we make up silly games.  Whatever it takes, friends.  WHATEVER IT TAKES.  I know you understand.

Anyway, tonight we began running our laps.  Allie girl is still learning to walk up and down stairs.  At this point, she still sits to go down them and gets down on all fours to climb up them.  For the first few laps she would run until she reached the first stair, then sit and scoot her way down.  When she reached the second stair she would get down on all fours and climb her way up it.  

Eventually she grew frustrated because she couldn't keep up with her brothers.  Her lack of skill climbing up and down stairs was slowing her down.  She would fuss and scream as they ran ahead of her (I fear she may have her mom's competitive spirit). 

With a little coercing from me, the boys agreed to help her move a little faster by holding her hand and helping her step down and up the steps.  At first she resisted their help, but eventually she recognized that with their hands to balance on she could get up and down the steps so much faster and easier (and not to mention safer).  So she went along with it and they ran lap after lap, Grayden and Cole taking turns holding her hand. 

It warmed my heart watching her squeal in delight as she walked up and down the steps holding their hands.  She would run freely on her own through the living room and kitchen but as she neared the steps she looked to them and held out her hand.  On a few occasions, Grayden tried to get her to walk up and down the steps on her own without holding his hand (he likes to try to teach her new things), but she was visibly scared and unsure of herself.  On each occasion, she would say in her little baby voice, "hand" while holding out her hand for him to hold.  Grayden would smile and say, "Okay Allie girl, I'll hold your hand."

I know this is a silly little story, but it very fondly reminded me of my own brother loving and protecting me.  Like I trusted my brother to protect me, my sweet little Allie girl trusted her brothers to protect her up and down the steps.  It was a simple but tender reminder that Allie would always have two brothers who love her and will do what they can to protect her...at least that is my hope and prayer.

1 Corinthians 13 is that beautiful passage in the Bible where God instructs us on how to love like He loves.  In verse 7 He teaches that love "always protects." 

I read a commentary of sorts from the website www.gotquestions.org that talks about what this particular instruction on love means.  If you don't mind, I'd like to share a direct quote with you as I feel it perfectly describes my own thoughts on the topic:

"God’s type of love protects.
That is, it watches out for others. It withstands difficulty.
And, if there is a shortcoming or fault in the loved one, love has the ability to cover it (see Proverbs 10:12).

Love is not based on selfish desire or even mutual benefit; rather, it seeks the benefit of the other person. Love aims to give rather than receive.

And one of the marks of love is that it always seeks to protect the loved one. This doesn’t mean that we excuse wrongdoing or seek to evade the natural consequences of sin; it means that we strengthen what is weak, shield what is vulnerable, and forgive what is provoking."

Oh how I am drawn to pray that my kids' love for others would protect!  That they would watch out for others and seek not their own benefit. 

And as I think about my growing boys, I absolutely want to pray that they learn to love their little sister with a protecting love like their Almighty God.  One that strengthens her when she is weak, one that shields her when she is vulnerable, and one that forgives her when she provokes. 

Would you join me today and let's pray for our children.  Let's pray that their love for others would protect like their God.  And let's pray that their love for their siblings would protect as well.

Your ultimate sacrifice on the cross was a perfect demonstration of love that protects.  Your love for us sought to protect us from death.  And Your love for us continues to protect us from the danger and destruction that sin creates in and around us. 

As I think about my kids and their growing hearts, I know they have much to learn about how to love like You do.  So I ask You today to teach them how to become people whose love for others protects! 

I pray they would watch out for others.   I pray their demonstrations of love would aim to give rather than receive.  Teach them to always seek to protect those that You've called them to love, not by excusing wrongdoing or seeking to rescue them from natural consequences of sin.  But rather by helping to strengthen those they love that are weak, by helping to shield those they love when they are vulnerable, and by forgiving those they love when they are provoking. 

Above all, may they love their siblings and others with a love like Yours, a love that tenderly protects!

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