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Home is where love is

February 13, 2020 - Thursday 4:02 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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We are in the love month. People talk about it more than any other time of the year. It is commercially advertised and openly celebrated worldwide. Yet, some ethereal questions still linger: What is love? Where does it begin?
Inspirational author and radio personality Dr. Harold Sala gave a definition of love that is practical yet profound. In his book, “Raising Godly Kids: 52 Guidelines for Counter Culture Parenting,” he said, “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect individual to meet his or her needs even if it requires personal sacrifice.” In essence, what this is saying is that true love is not a feeling or an emotion. True love is in fact an act of will and a decision. It is a commitment to give rather than to get from the other. To love is to embrace sacrifice, not just enjoy the heartwarming moments. The reality is, a person who loves another puts himself/herself in a vulnerable position to get hurt. Real love, as Dr. Sala puts it, “embraces sacrifice, not simply indulging the one we love.”
Love starts at home. It must! Every person’s first concept of love comes from his/her family. Our family members crave true love. Unfortunately, we hardly notice it because everyone in the house is too familiar with each other. We live with each other. We see each other daily. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and of course we harp on the weaknesses. We smear each other’s mistakes and tease each other over our vulnerabilities. Most family arguments start over negligible things such as who messed up which part of the house, who left the refrigerator door open, who was in charge of taking the garbage out and didn’t, and so on. Often, we ignore our family member’s need for affirmation but we are quick to offer a criticism even when it is not called for. We speak to each other in a manner that we would not do to our next door neighbor. And we just keep emptying our love tank until we breed hatred within the supposedly safe zone of our homes.
I am constantly challenged to love and embody the meaning of real love to my teenage children. Though they are generally great kids who do not give me and their dad the typical problems that teens bring home, we still have our fair share of struggles and challenges with the generation gap. I must admit, my teens are not always easy to talk to and understand. It doesn’t come easy for them to obey me either. I have often been pushed to my limits and my love put to the test with my teens’ disrespectful behavior, sharp words, and thoughtless deeds. But then again, I realize that there have also been many times when I was incomprehensible to my children. I must have hurt them when they were much younger and they asked for a bedtime story but I set aside their favorite book because I was too tired from working all day. They must have also felt rejected once in a while when I would pay attention to replying to a text message, writing an email, or checking my social media accounts instead of listening to them tell me what is weighing heavy in their hearts. They must have also felt frustrated when they could not make sense of what I am saying simply because our realities are a generation apart.
Because true love is very precious, it obviously is costly. Sometimes the price is our time. At times it will require us to pay with our undivided attention to a child who talks about something we feel is unimportant but means the whole world to him/her. Sometimes it is the expensive value of our presence and just sit beside our spouse when he/she would rather be silent and keep things to himself/herself. Whatever the cost, to want to truly love and be loved in return means opening yourself to pain and embracing sacrifice.
Dr. Sala said, “Love is expensive but it reaps great rewards…Love in the family is kept alive through little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness…Love is a commitment and a sacrament. It is the remedy to the sickness that has diseased our families and our lives. It is what your children need more than toys, computers, music lessons, clothes and anything else you can think of. And love starts at home—your home.”