Journal for Christa—
Years ago—more than what I’d like to admit—I was having quite an issue with a parent of one of my students. He didn’t like what I taught, how I taught, and I doubt seriously if he liked me—at all. It was kind of a bad situation. So, at care group one Sunday night, while Pastor Mark was cooking hamburgers, I asked him for advice on how to deal with this difficult man. His response to me was to say, “You need to love that student and that parent more than you love yourself.” Humph. That really wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t even like the guy. He was mean. And I surely didn’t like him more than myself.
Loving others more than myself—what a better place to practice that concept than in a family—
Today, right in the middle of a Harlem Renaissance poem, a student raised her hand and stated, “Mrs. Borkert, this is a little off topic, but what does being a family mean to you?” (It was rather “off topic,” and an assignment for another class, probably her next one.) I was kind of stumped, standing there staring blankly…25 of them staring back. I don’t know what they were expecting. Then I said, “A family is where they love you, whether you deserve it or not.” I don’t know why I said that. I could have said a million different things. As I’d stared blankly at them, I thought I should say something profound, something that would capsulate the very strong passion I feel about “family.” But, that was all that came to mind.
“A family is where they love you, whether you deserve it or not.” I think of all the things I’ve said and shouldn’t have, but my family loves me anyway. I think of all the children gifts of love, from flowers picked in the yard to a tape Mel made for me (which I still have, by the way, Mel), Mother’s Day cards, poems, notes. And there were things we did for them: encouraging words after lost wrestling matches, lost loves, lost dreams, and late night talks.
So, maybe it is true, “a family is where they love you—where you know they will always love you—no matter what, no matter when, no matter where; because in a family, you learn to love others more than yourself. There really isn’t any better place to learn that.