Learning your capacity to love unconditionally as God loves us, forgives us and has mercy toward us.
The love of the Lord for each of us, independent of our correct or incorrect choices, or even if we deserve it, is taught. God’s love for us makes us free and will not diminish or disappear if we estrange ourselves from him or do not believe in him. Through his love, he respects our choices.
In the article aforementioned, parental love is addressed. This manner of love is the closest thing we, mortals, have to Celestial Love. The love for our children overpowers almost anything else. We want only the best for them. Our heavenly father wants and feels the same for each of us, his children. He loves us, forgives us and is merciful toward us. Of all titles he could have chosen, he chose Father. That title perfectly defines the quality of his love for us.
The immeasurable love of parents for their children
As parents, our suffering doubles as we see our children suffer. Our heart overflows when we see our children go through hard times.
Who has not pleaded with God for healing when their child dealt with a serious disease? How many parents have wished the disease upon themselves, instead? I, and any mother or father, would quickly give their lives for their children.
One of the greatest pains parents know is to see one of their children suffer because of a wrong choice. As parents, we know this son or daughter would not have had to suffer, had they listened, remembered and followed your counsel.
When children lie, even small white lies, we weep inside. We forgive them and advise them to never repeat the act. We try to teach them to do right at every chance that we get so that learning is rooted into their souls.
One day, however, even the youngest children grow up. What they do not learn at home with you, they will learn in life. Life does not teach with the same patience or love as a parent would.
What to do if a child chooses the wrong path to follow?
Henry B. Eyring, an author and doctor in educational administration through Harvard, told the story of a grandmother that had been loyal to God all her life. On her long trip to visit her grandchild in prison, she prays to God, in tears. “I’ve tried to live a good life. Why, why do I have this tragedy of a grandson who seems to have destroyed his life?” The Lord’s response came to her mind and heart distinctly, “I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.”
Eyring continued, “The way for loving parents and grandparents and all of God’s servants will not be easy in a decaying world. We cannot force God’s children to choose the way of happiness. God cannot do that because of the agency he has given us.”
Unconditional love vs respect of personal agency
God is a perfect father. He loves his children unconditionally. We, as parents of our children, can teach them using our examples; to be sure of his love and of our love for them. Unconditionally loving our children, even those who make poor choices means to:
Present them to the Lord and guide them to his mercy while being patient with the mistakes they have made growing up.
Respect his choices, but teach him that he is responsible for the consequences of his actions.
Even though you know that she could have made better choices, she needs to learn and discover for herself. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force him to drink.
Let him choose. Help him understand that every choice he makes will influence his future.
ALWAYS love her, even when she has made a wrong choice.
Teach him that the consequences of his actions are independent of your love for him. Sometimes, those decisions require justice or interference from the law. The consequences that those decisions bring to your family and into your lives are inevitable.
Be her support as she suffers the consequences of her actions, but do not take away her privilege to learn by shielding her from those consequences.
Trust him. Encourage him. When he is in a pickle, he will remember who has always been by his side.
Be hopeful. Teach her to hope. Encourage her to make plans and to get up when she falls. Help her understand that everything will be OK, and you will always be there for her. Bring her the hope that God wishes for her to have.
Unconditional love is not egoistic. It does not think things like “How could she have done this to me?” It is not a phrase just to be said to each other. If your child has chosen a bad life, unconditional love never gives up but knows and respects her choices. To love unconditionally is to always be there for her.
Just as God NEVER gives up on us, despite our disobedience, faults and errors which are made almost daily, we must never give up on our children. It does not matter what the problems are; whether it is problems with the law, drugs, violence, divorce or contempt, love them anyway.
Remember, if they were born as your children, it is because God knows that we can, and will love them independent of what they do, are, do not do or do not become.
If, as fathers and mothers, we do not love our children, who will love them besides God? In the world we live in, no one will ever love them.
Translated and adapted by David Hall from the original article “Como amar incondicionalmente um filho que faz más escolhas” by Chris Ayres.