Sharing lunch this week with an exceptionally close friend, Monique (not her real name), we exchanged highlights of our busy lives. Monique experiences life as a single mother of two sons, both in and around teen years, while managing her professional life. In the midst of tight schedules, extended commitments and attempts at self-nurturing, I wondered if she finds herself marveling over the miracle of birthing two such fascinating and individual human beings. So I asked her.
“Yes!” she answered. “All the time.” Her hurried demeanor immediately transformed into that unique ‘parenting’ glow; the hue that moms take on when they are asked about their offspring. “Sometimes I just sit and watch them with total awe. I LOVE doing that!”
Seeing this transformation and hearing this type of heart response, I sensed the presence of holiness. My friend emitted an essence that I can only describe as deep love. Does our Creator have these feelings about us? Church has told me not to put our Divine Parent into human form with human feelings, yet I am told that I can count on the fact that I am loved. Was this mother giving me a glimpse of Divine Love?
Then I remembered a message in a previous meditation.
While dating a man with a troubled teenage daughter, I was horrified to learn that this daughter orchestrated her druggie friends breaking into his home. They stole electronic equipment and even took hidden cash that only his daughter and he knew about. Although he was an alcohol and drug counselor who knows the importance of tough love, I perceived that he repeatedly opened himself to vulnerability and abuse from this daughter.
One day he asked if he could bring this daughter and a couple of her friends to my small island when he came for a weekend visit. I immediately felt protective of myself and my community. Why would I knowingly invite and enable troubled teens to come here when they are under police scrutiny in their home city?
I was shocked that this man would put me in the position of having to say ‘no’. How could he know so much about the behaviour and modus operandi of substance abusers yet want me to make myself and my community vulnerable? I took the question to my meditation.
When Jesus appeared, I laid out my concern, pacing as I expressed my feelings. He said, “Sit beside me. Don’t worry about this. You will know what to do.”
The Angel of Joy had held me in an earlier meditation. She had cradled me and allowed me to meld into her body until it felt that nothing could affect me. Suddenly, I was holding my friend’s daughter in the same manner in this meditation. She leaned into me with full trust and utter abandon. She said nothing, but I knew she simply wanted to be with us.
I asked Jesus, “Okay, I’m not a parent. Can I ever understand how parents feel?”
“You are not a parent. How can you expect to walk in a parent’s shoes?” Jesus replied.
“Is there a clue in the reason for calling God ‘Father’? Was that out of love? Or to impart authority?”
“People who contributed to the Holy Books believed that the parent figure was the way people could best sense God. That’s the language that was best understood and therefore adopted for the Holy Bible.”
“Can God be Mother?”
“Yes, if that’s what you need and want.”
“Can God be my Sister?” I asked.
“There is no description you can give to God’s Love, but a sister has not created the individual. God is more than even parental love. It goes beyond the deepest love a parent can feel.”
This was not helping me to justify telling my friend that I could not open my home to teenagers who were known substance abusers. I felt a knot of guilt wanting to form, but did I not have options?
Jesus asked, “Remember your discussions when one of your single friends confessed she had aborted an embryo rather than have the child?”
I certainly remembered.
My friend had been in pieces, heartsick. She told me God would hate her forever. She said God would never forgive her and she would never forgive herself.
I asked her to think of the worst thing her daughter had done. When she came up with the scenario, I asked her if she hated her daughter because of that episode.
She said, “Of course not,”
When I asked her if she had forgiven her daughter, she said, “Okay I get your point! But what I did was way, way worse. What if abortion IS murder?!”
“If your daughter killed someone, would you stop loving her?” I asked.
“No,” she said firmly.
“So you could still love your daughter even if she killed someone, yet you figure God could only hate you because you had an abortion. Does this mean that you are more capable of loving than God?” I asked.
I remembered my friend sobbing and I remembered my enormous feeling of love towards her.
As I continued my meditation, holding my friend’s teenage daughter, I realized I did feel love towards this young woman. Yet I didn’t feel safe having her in my home. I tried to connect the dots. If I care for this man, did I have the right to tell him that I would not invite his daughter and her friends to my home? Suddenly familiar words dawned on me: We can hate the sin but love the sinner.
I looked immediately at Jesus. “There you go.” He smiled and rose to leave.
I laughed. “Thanks, again, Jesus. You help with everything – big and small. It never matters, does it?” I felt profoundly loved and loving.
“No, it doesn’t matter. Except when you don’t ask me.”
I phoned my gentleman friend and told him my truth. I was only able to invite him for the weekend. He accepted my answer, but in the end, he was not able to come after all. It was due to a phone call he received from the police.
What an assortment of different levels and tastes of love. What freedom to know that I can love a person even though I do not agree with his or her life choices. Imagine…parents do it all the time, at the deepest level – mothers and fathers alike. The agony and the ecstasy.
Have I been shallow to my parent-friends? Have I offered suggestions from my surface level of experience? May I remember that they are closer to unconditional love than I will ever be. I want to be a good supporter of true lovers!