I believe in love because the giving and receiving of love is the deepest desire of our heart.
Too deep? Too ambiguous? Too simple? Maybe so, but the older I get, the more I realize that getting to the deepest purpose of things is what drives and moves me.
I am a mom of five kids under the age of ten and wife to one amazing man. Four years ago, my life looked pretty different. My husband and I lived as family teachers at Boys Town—a nonprofit devoted to helping struggling children, teens, and their families.
In the family home program, a couple is tasked with teaching basic social, emotional, and academic skills while providing the stability of a home environment. We had six girls who lived with us at a time. Over the course of three years we had fourteen girls in all who lived with us. It was a life changing experience, but very difficult nonetheless.
We think about “our” girls often, even though we are still in contact only with a few of them. Most of them came to us broken and thirsting so desperately to be loved. They, like all of us really, were searching for that love in the wrong places.
As I sought to understand each of them, I would constantly ask myself: Are they lost? Are they alone? Are they in addictive or abusive situations? I will probably never know all the answers to those questions for each girl. Sadly, sometimes we did learn they were in such situations. These girls felt alone and unable to receive love, and they questioned why any of the rules or skills we were teaching them mattered.
I often questioned, too, if the skills we tried to teach them were enough. However, I was confident that the small things mattered. I want to: remind them how much they matter, build memories with them, share family dinners, teach them to take pride in hard work and leadership, and give them hope that true love in marriage is possible.
I am certain that the short time we had with each of them was not sufficient to heal a lifetime of wounds, but we showed them love to the best of our abilities. Even though we couldn’t ‘fix’ everything they were going through, there were little moments where we showed them the love they craved by surprising them with a note for Valentines day or simply listening to them. And in that small way, I know we made a difference.
Although our life looks much different now, this lesson of living small moments of great love is still a driving force in my life. The days are sometimes long and often lonely, as they are for all of us in the sometimes humdrum of life. But when there is purpose, it changes everything.
These are the moments that matter to me and to the people I love: Connecting with a friend over the phone or over drinks, sharing excitement over a new species of bird in the backyard with my 8-year-old naturalist, smiling while changing the fourth poopy diaper of the day, or dreaming of travel or house projects with my hubby.
In the end, all I can do is to choose to love my little family the best I can, hoping that they will be able to go out into the world with hearts that can recognize and give love in all the best ways, big and small.