Tough Love

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As I write this I am filled with joy as it is Mothering Sunday, the day when we acknowledge and are aware of God’s nurturing, comforting and all-embracing love  for us. It is a day to remember the women and men who have cared for us.

In a box at home I have kept the cards that my children made for Mother’s Day when they were at school. They are a lot older now 33 and 29. Yet it does not seem that long ago since they were small, and running to give me the card made from feathers and cotton wool at the school gate.

Yet I am also aware that 1in 10 people in Britain have experienced a degree of child abuse in the name of parental love; I am also aware that for some people motherhood and memories of mothers maybe tinged with sadness, regret and pain.

Being a parent does brings its highs and lows, ranging from the terrible twos and trusting threes to the turbulent teenage years. However you don’t have to be a parent though to forge meaningful relationships with children. Relationships vary whether you are a mother, father, grandparent or someone who has never had children of their own. What binds them all together is love.

Love is preached on many times, however I would like to focus on one particular type of love …tough love.

Love is a gift from God, not the fragile, vulnerable, ‘here- today- gone- tomorrow’ love, but a love forged with strength, courage and ‘stickability’.

It is by God’s grace that we can love; it is that same love, that are the cords that bind us together with God and the world ;it is that same love which Anna and Simeon felt when saw the infant Jesus,and recognised the pain that would eventually come to him and it is that same love which enables each one of us to take a step each day into the unknown day ahead.

Whether we like it or not loving is tough

Firstly, let us think for a moment about Gods love. God understood the need to let go …the stories of Adam and Eve are surely stories that echo our experience as children. Eager to try the forbidden, eager to taste new experiences and explore beyond the bounds that our parents have drawn for us.

Secondly, a mother’s Love. Mary is often portrayed as a Jesus mother an idyllic picture of family life, round the manger, the time when Jesus stayed in the synagogue and Mary could not find him and at wedding at Cana. However the story of her at the cross is often missed. Yet here she reveals a love, which is unique.

A tough love…

Loving to the uttermost.Loving when it hurts.Loving to the bitter end. She watched her son, beaten, taunted, shamed, and hung on a cross. Yet in this moment, his greatest moment, Mary was still there loving him.

Finally, the tough love of Christ on the cross. The cross truly is a place, where humanities brokenness meets Christ’s brokenness. Not just the physical, but spiritual brokenness. A place where many fear to go … however if we venture to the cross, we will be in good company. We will be alongside other people whose love has been strengthened, and forged in the cross.

One the wisest statements given to me, was by my father about my children. he said, there would come a time when I will have to drop the reins, and let them go it alone.

If you hold on too tight that’s possessive love, and they will run away. But if you gently drop the reins, they will want to come back in your arms.Wise words…. yet when the moment came for me to drop the reins … it was tough, and painful, knowing what lay ahead could be danger.

Yes, tough love is necessary for certain situations, but remember you are in good company for our love comes direct from God. A God who loves is so immense, that he can cradle all of humanity in the crook of his arm. A God who knows what is like to experience pain and nurse us back with tenderness.

Gracious God,

Whose Loving Spirit knows no bounds,

We ask that you would help us into being open to your Love

a Love that knows no limits

a Love to care for others

a Love to journey with us on a voyage of self-discovery

Enable us to see more clearly,

and so to love you more dearly, day by day

Amen

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