by Kenneth Justice
~ “Look Kenneth, sometimes life is not a perfect package and you just have to take what you can get….sometimes life is not about what I want but about making the best choice available”
That is what a young woman said to me at coffee recently. I hadn’t seen the mid-30ish woman in a few years; the last time we talked she had found out she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby….. It turns out the two of them got married and she is now pregnant with her second child.
Although we hadn’t talked in a few years I specifically remember her telling me that she wasn’t ‘in love’ with the boyfriend and she was debating whether or not to stay with him; I recall that she had sat at my table looking for me to tell her what to do and I never did….its not my place to tell other people how to live their lives when it comes to important decisions such as whether or not to marry someone!
“Well, your probably wondering if I love him” she said, “Its been five years and I still don’t know. But ‘Paul’ is good to me. He’s a good husband and he’s a good father. He’s the only man I’ve ever been with that doesn’t do drugs or drink….I couldn’t ask for a more honest man to be with….and ‘love’…well, I guess I just finally decided that some things are more important in life…and giving my children a solid family life is all that matters to me right now”
Last month I received an email from a reader who was comparing their relationship with god to the relationship with a spouse, “I would never stay married to someone I didn’t love….I wouldn’t stay married to someone out of a sense of duty….and that is how I feel about God, I wouldn’t obey God out of a sense of duty…I obey God because I love God….”
It’s interesting for me to see how the reader’s opinion is the complete opposite opinion of the woman that sat down at my table;
—) For the woman at coffee; love meant doing what was best for her and her children…love is somehow intertwined with her ‘sense of duty’
–) For the reader who emailed me love had everything to do with ‘feeling’ and was completely separate from ‘duty’
I’m not about to say that one of them is right and one is wrong. Who am I to tell others that “Kenneth knows what true love is”? But I will say that its an important issue that many of us deal with in various aspects of our lives.
For those of us who have children, loving our children no matter their behavior is something that we do; we will always love our children because it is ingrained within us to do so……
Being a Christian, I have found that ‘love’ is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of my religion. One of the statements of Jesus is, “This is my commandment that you love one another….” I find that to be a very difficult pill to swallow because to be quite honest; most of the time I don’t feel like loving others.
—) If Jesus had said, “When you feel like it you should love others” my religion would be a lot easier for me.
—) If Jesus had said, “When people are nice to you its important for you to love them back” my religion would be a lot easier to me
—-) If Jesus had said, “Love is simply something you should do when you feel like doing something nice for others” my religion would be a lot easier to me
Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t say any of those things…..instead he left me with this damn blanket statement; “This is my commandment that you love others” and it is a very difficult command to follow.
To love other people who are nasty, mean, or who simply don’t give a damn about us; well its a hell of a lot harder to love those people.
When I was younger my Christian faith had very little to do with love; for me, being a Christian was all about ‘believing the right things’ and ‘saying the right things’….as a young person my Christian faith was about carrying around a checklist of do’s and don’ts….but when I got older and I began to realize that being a Christian was about loving others; well, all of a sudden my religion became a whole lot tougher to fit into my life.
As I sat with the young married woman I listened to her share with me the joys of motherhood. She showed me pictures of her 3 year old child and told me how excited she was to be pregnant again. She showed me pictures of a trip her and her husband took to Paris and of the awesome café’s they sipped coffee at…….she seems really happy. Is she ‘in love’ with her husband; does it matter? Perhaps ‘love’ could come later…….perhaps it won’t…..
The simple fact of life is that none of our lives come in a perfect package…each of us are trying to make the best with what we have. We’re trying figure things out as we go….some of us are still recovering from abusive relationships in our past, some of us are recovering from years of wasted time, some of us are simply trying to get up each morning to write and sip our coffee…which reminds me…