Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit
Yesterday morning was beautiful and sunny so I decided to take a walk. Landon has had way more bad days than good lately and honestly the weight of that burden gets pretty heavy. His aggression is increasing at school towards his teachers and classmates. So I daily email and check in with his teacher, doctor, etc. to apologize for the behavior, to work on improving the behavior with medicine increases/decreases/different medicines. We try different techniques to help him, but nothing ends up working much or for very long. It is a very helpless and hopeless feeling to work with someone with severe autism for years. You know you are stuck on the roller coaster of autism and you can never get off. You are forever working, trying, praying, and crying.
Anyway, like I was saying, I decided to take a walk yesterday morning. I was walking down the sidewalk, talking on the phone to my Mom actually, and in the distance I could see a woman walking a dog and they were headed in my direction. As they got closer, I could see that the dog was a goldendoodle.
If you aren’t familiar with this breed, it is a cross between a standard poodle and a golden retriever. To me, this breed is absolutely amazing. Nearly every time I see one of these dogs, I feel this immediate connection with them. I know some may roll their eyes and say whatever, that sounds cheesy and silly, but I’ve personally experienced it more than once. I’ve seen at least three of these dogs in person and every single time, when they look at me with those awesome loving, intelligent eyes, there is a connection. It’s as if they understand me somehow and love me and want to be near me. Yes, this happens to be one of my favorite breeds. 😊 I don’t own one, but maybe some day I will.
So I’m talking to my mom and I tell her this lady is approaching with a goldendoodle. The dog and the the lady get closer and as they do, the dog starts wagging his tail and tries to come over to me. I greet the lady and tell her what a beautiful dog she has and as we pass the dog looks at me with those loving and knowing eyes and reaches out to lick my fingers. It was such a sweet moment. I kept walking and didn’t think much about it until later in the evening.
The day goes on, Landon gets home from school and I check his backpack. Another horrible day. He’s hitting and scratching himself and other people. If you know me well, you know I’m a pretty gentle, loving person. If anything, I love to a fault. Landon’s behavior is not the result of being in any kind of bad environment. Landon’s behavior is a result of his autism. And I’m helpless to change it. I cannot love the autism away. All the love I have to give and do give is not enough to change his autism. Landon’s autism is a forever reminder that this earth is not our home.
So after reading all the bad reports and holding my head in my hands for awhile, I email the doctor, email the teacher, etc. to apologize, to work on medicine changes, to reassure that I’m working to “fix” or “improve” that which, aside from a miracle, is unfixable.
Side note, Murry took Landon to Robbie’s soccer practice Wednesday and so I got over an hour break to exercise and play the piano. It was wonderful and I thanked Murry profusely for making that sacrifice and taking Landon off my hands for a while. Self-care is important if you’re a full-time caregiver.
Back to yesterday. After emailing, texting, apologizing, and crying, and after Landon was in bed, I went to take a long bath and pray. I told God “look I don’t know what to do. I can’t fix the autism. I can’t make him better.” Right away the image of the goldendoodle came back to mind along with a gentle reminder from God.
The Lord reminded me that He loves Landon not because of his performance or how good he is…but because Landon exists, because he is an image bearer of God. When Landon misbehaves, Jesus doesn’t love him less. When he has good days, Jesus doesn’t love him more. God reminded me that He loves me completely, too, just because I exist. That love doesn’t change based on my actions or circumstances or how good I am or if I’m having a bad day. It is unwavering, steady, unchanging and abundantly overflowing.
We humans love people with conditions. If you think you don’t, ask yourself why you love your significant other? Is it because they do something for you? Do they provide financially? Do they give you affection, time, encouragement? If they didn’t do anything for you, would you still love them? Do you get upset with them if they don’t do what you expect? What about your friends? Do you love them based on their performance? Whether they make time for you or not? When you are honest with yourself and become aware of this, it might surprise you to learn that you sometimes love with conditions, too.
I’m not saying we should beat ourselves up over this, but just to be aware of our humanity, and to ultimately realize God doesn’t love us like that! He loves us with no conditions. He simply loves us just because we are His children. His love won’t ever fluctuate. He just delights to have us near, no matter what kind of day we are having. His eyes meet ours with warmth and love and joy when He sees us. And when we see Him and look into His eyes we feel an amazing connection. We are understood and loved. We can just “be” in His presence and He is delighted with that.
My goldendoodle friend was a glimpse of that unconditional love today. Of course a dog’s love cannot compare with the love of Jesus, but the tangible reminder was what my heart needed. Maybe today you need that reminder too. You are totally loved just because you “are”. His love isn’t performance based or conditional. Rest in that today. Accept His unconditional love for you.
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13