The Courage to Love
By Bernadette A. Moyer
It takes a lot of courage to love and to try for love and acceptance. You have to be willing to try and to put yourself out there. It is easy to be selfish when you are single, but being married and having children is a decision to share and to give a part of yourself away in love. It takes great courage to embrace another human life and to live with that life and to help elevate and grow that life together as a couple and as a family.
People that are single can come and they can go but to live intimately with someone is to risk smacking up against them with all things good and all things not so good about you and about them. The decision to have children and to raise them is a decision to embrace love, to accept them as they are and to be courageous in that commitment. We don’t hand pick the child that God gives us to bear nor do we know ahead of time what an adopted child will require from us as we make the choice to parent them.
I read an article about an adopted child that came from a foreign country and the parents were overwhelmed at what it would take to raise that child. They wanted to return her, to send her back. The little girl was diagnosed with both educational and emotional challenges. The adoptive parents had the financial resources to care for her but this wasn’t the child they had envisioned for themselves. Emotionally they didn’t think they had enough love in them to care for her and all of her special needs.
Imagine having birthed a baby and having the courage to love and then deciding this isn’t the child I wanted? How does that work? How many adults are estranged from their parents today? The numbers are shockingly high. Those adult children have decided they didn’t have the parents they envisioned for themselves either.
To love someone is to risk rejection since not everyone is going to love us back. I am always amused when I hear people that never had the courage to have their own children, to raise their own children yet they remark about how someone else should be raising kids. To create a family, to marry and then embrace children takes a huge leap of faith, an abundance of trust and remarkable courage. We have no way at the onset of knowing how these relationships will unfold and develop through the years. What it will cost us in time and in treasure to nurture our spouses and our children and to remain with them.
Potentially we could invest heavily in our spouses and in our children and give our very best efforts and still fail. Fail as in marriages that don’t last as expected and/or children that grow up and are unhappy and never reach their potential. Spouses can walk out of our lives just as our children can should they decide to do so. To risk ones heart and their life and to commit that heart and that life to any other human being takes a huge amount of courage, faith and trust.
In the early years, I used to joke with my husband, “I can’t get married because I don’t ever want to be divorced.” Behind every joke there is a hint of the truth. You never know going into it if the marriage will last, will your love grow, and will you grow old together? Today more than ever we live in a disposable society, if we don’t want a marriage, a child, or a parent, a relationship we walk out on them and away from them. It takes tremendous courage to stay in a relationship that can be taxing at times. Raising children who have any limitations, educational and emotional challenges isn’t for the weak or faint of heart. There are days you may feel much love for your spouse and other days question that love. Same can be said for your children .
But … what if each person was put in our life for a reason? And what if each child was given to the people that were meant to parent and raise them? The Buddhist belief is that, “Everyone in our life is either a lover or a teacher.” Every relationship is meant for love or is a person we are supposed to learn something from. The parents that want to return their adopted child might very well have received “that child” because they had the resources to love and care for her and to learn from her.
Parents abandon their children when they can’t or don’t have enough love or have the ability to care for them. Marriages end when the love and care ends and family members become estranged when there isn’t enough love and care to hold them together. Making the commitment to marry someone means loving them on those easy happy days as well as those difficult challenging ones. Most parents will never openly discuss the struggles they face in raising their own children; they may love them unconditionally and yet at times question whether they are equipped for what that particular child may require to be happy and successful in life.
You don’t pick your parents and maybe there is good reason. A child comes to us just the way that God intended them to arrive. True love is the greatest gift any one of us will ever receive. It takes faith, trust, courage and maybe a little luck too!
There is nothing like loving someone and having that person love you right back … so here is to finding love and the courage to love, and finding it over, and over again.