Tina Turner got it wrong.
When answering with the question, "what's love got to do with it?" she called it “a second-hand emotion." No way. In the Christian walk, love is both the ultimate goal (being unified in Love with God) and the way to get there (loving God and our neighbor).
In our homes, the demands of love are a constant invitation to show up, speak up, and lift up. Here’s a few ideas for how you live and love incarnationally within the work of maternity homes—loving tough, yet unconditionally.
Love as a Invitation to Perfection (Tough Love)
- Notice the small movements of growth in others. Don't overlook even the seemingly smallest advances in the lives around us. Often progress is very subtle!
- Ground yourself in the dignity of every person. It’s especially important to remember that when dignity isn't being shown!
- Foster willingness to hear feedback and admit your mistakes. Be an example of openness even as you pursue growth in holiness. You’re not perfect, and you’re not expected to be, so live in the freedom that comes with admissions and apologies.
- When you have to correct, speak out of a calm, reflective place. Refuse to speak from an angry, reactive place. When you do correct, ask God to purify your motives, so that your correction is truly correction, not frustration masquerading.
- Recognize the power of timing. Are you and the other person able to have a meaningful conversation right now? Or, are other circumstances (anger, hunger, loneliness, fatigue) affecting the exchange?
Love that Sees through Brokenness (Unconditional Love)
- Grow in your ability to give and receive forgiveness. Let mercy gush out of you.
- Love your imperfections—they are part of your humanity. But, don't coddle them. Instead, always be stretching past them. Allow others to have imperfections as well. They’ll have imperfections either way, so better get used to them!
- In a maternity home, the mothers need to be able to relax and be themselves. Yes, there are battles to fight. But, choose each battle wisely. Your goal with each mom is to create an environment where they can open hearts and breathe deeply.
- Because each person has a different set of challenges, we’re stronger operating as a team or community. Create an environment where each individual functions out of her strengths, and where the community protects each other’s area of weakness.
- Love is a moving target—sometimes it requires giving, other times receiving. Sometimes it requires action, other times inaction. Stay attuned!
There is a spiritual insight that suffering expands one's capacity to love. The women who join our homes have often known great suffering—some due to their own decisions and some due to the horrific decisions of others.
We have the noble challenge of trying to help each mother understand that the heartache of their lives can produce a bedrock strength and a beautiful ability to love deeply. Starting with themselves and their children.
As we exercise compassion—literally, suffering with—the moms, we too are being perfected in love!
by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant