“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT)
“Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV)
My son. He recently changed his major but put off talking to me about it. I think he was afraid I would try to talk him out of it. Over the past few months, he distanced himself from me more and more, not talking to me and becoming defensive whenever we did speak. It seemed all we did was snap at each other. There was a real disconnect. And when we finally did talk, we talked at each other, not truly hearing the other’s side. I was hurt; he was rebellious. My son said to me, “You don’t understand!” And I thought to myself, “Of course I don’t understand, you’re not talking to me.”
My son grew increasingly frustrated with me. He gave up trying to talk to me about what was going on, labeling me as another mother who just doesn’t get it. And when he did that, he gave up on me. I guess he figured this was an acceptable part of growing up – that your mom wouldn’t be able to understand or appreciate what you’re going through. He didn’t mean anything by it. He just accepted it as he saw it – kids grow up, they move on and start their own life and the parent sometimes has a hard time letting go.
Fortunately for us both, I did not consider this situation acceptable. You wanna change your major? Sure – I support you and want you to be happy. But this not talking thing? That’s never been a part of our relationship. That had to go. I told myself I would wait him out and he would talk in his own time. I told myself I didn’t want to ruin our time together by arguing about it during the Thanksgiving holiday. I tried to get away from it and ignore it but it was the elephant in the room. I tried talking around it but I felt like I was tiptoeing around my own son.
Finally, I sat down, determined to hash it out. He initially said, “What’s the point? You don’t get it! You won’t understand! There’s no point in continuing to talk about it if the end result is going to be the same!” And that’s when it clicked for me – he gave up on me, on us and our relationship as mother and son. For him, it was an acceptable loss. Not so, for me.
I told my son, “Make me understand. Talk to me until I get it. By your own definition, insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result. I’m hoping that if we continue to talk about it, we’ll find a different way that will give us a different result.” I realized then that I wasn’t giving up on my son or, on us. Failure was not an option. I loved him enough to continue to try to reach him. Maybe I didn’t understand but I loved him enough to try. Give up? Never.
God used that conversation with my son to illustrate a point. That, right there, was our relationship with him in a nutshell. No matter what kind of blocks we can throw up to distance ourselves, he keeps coming at us. He won’t give up. The Apostle Paul posed this question:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35)
And then, he also gives the answer:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
My son was resistant because he’d convinced himself I couldn’t relate to his situation – maybe because I’m older, maybe because I’m a woman or because I’m not a college student. I did the same to my mother when I was a young lady. She grew up during a different time and a lot had changed since she was a young woman so I discounted her. I didn’t value her advice. I came to believe, once I grew older, that she was such a wise woman. Her words came to me, time and again, and I realized just how much she understood and just how much has not changed about human nature and life in general. And I was ever so thankful that, despite how I rejected her advice then, she never stopped trying to impart that wisdom to me. She didn’t give up.
The reason why it was important for Jesus to come and live out his life on a human level, was so he could relate to us and whatever we’re going through. So there would be no walls or barriers or blocks between us and him. Nothing would be lost in translation. He lived a flesh and blood life so He could empathize. He does understand. He gets it.
“For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)
God wanted to show me on that day, he loves us and he understands. He used my dilemma with my son to connect with me and teach me a lesson. I love my son and I’ve spent time building our relationship and forging our connection. I wasn’t willing to let that go. I wasn’t willing to let it become a misunderstanding or chalk it up to our age gap. No excuses. There are things about our relationship that I recognize will have to change because he’s becoming his own man and finding his own way. But this – our ability to talk and to come to an understanding, I was not willing to sacrifice. I wanted him to always know he can talk to me and if I don’t understand, I’ll surely try. I’ll keep on trying until we find common ground.
The parent-child relationship is a foreshadow of the relationship God yearns to have with us. God drew the parallel between my relationship with my son and His relationship with me. And the message was the same as I gave my son: I love you. Let me in. Don’t shut me out. Talk to me. I don’t want to lose what we have. I don’t want to lose you. Because God loves us, giving up is not an option. He’s gonna keep trying to reach us by any and all means necessary. His love won’t fail; his love is persistent. He’ll keep on trying because there is so much to gain and too much to lose.