I've mentioned in the past that I work with an amazing group of eighth-grade young women on Sunday mornings. Today, our fearless leader, Jason, stressed to the students that we don't need to earn love. A big point he pushed with the kids is that love is not earned and it can't be lost. It just is.
This resonated with me on so many levels and in talking with my girls about it, I drew the parallel of parental love. As a mom, I love my kids. Period. They aggravate me, annoy me, push my limits, and make me cry. But they also inspire me, motivate me, give me purpose, and endless joy. Every morning, my eight-year-old son comes down the steps and my heart smiles. Not just because he is the miracle we never believed would happen, but because he is mine. Simply stated, I love him because he is mine. It doesn't hurt that the first thing he wants every morning, even before chocolate milk, is his "morning hug" from me.
This same little boy has ADHD and spends the morning making random noises. Not singing, not talking, not even humming. Just random bleeps and blurps. And it's loud and incredibly annoying. I find myself clinching my teeth to not yell at him to stop. And just as I don't love him any more for the empathy, intelligence, and innocence he demonstrates every day, I don't love him any less when his ADHD makes me want to run far, far away. Because Ty didn't earn my love, so he can't lose my love.
This morning, another parallel struck me and I was reminded of my Daddy. Jason asserted that we believe doing good is necessary when in fact, that isn't why we do good things. We do them because we're loved. Period. Growing up, my biggest worry was not of my Mama's wrath (the woman could yell) or even of being punished. I didn't want to disappoint my Daddy. This wasn't out of fear. Anyone who's ever met my Dad will tell you he is kind, loving, and peaceful. In my 41 years, I've never heard that man yell. His gentleness and unwavering love for me is the reason I didn't want to disappoint him. I wanted to be like him and emulate him.
There is no parallel in writing. Readers don't love you just because. You must earn their respect. Their time. Their consideration. And you must keep writing to maintain it. Just as with any art or entertainment, you must work hard to stay relevant. I am so thankful my husband, my children, my father, my friends, and my God love me just because. And that's the way I love them.