I was talking to my oldest son today.  He’s an amazing young man, so I told him how I was proud of some things he had been doing.  He is really quite an artist, and an excellent writer.

However, I said ‘You know, even if you didn’t do any of those things, I’d love you.  My love for you has nothing to do with your performance!’

‘You mean, I could rob a bank, and you’d still love me?’ he asked.
‘Sure,  I guess I’d love you in prison, but I’d love you!’  I replied.

That’s a great illustration of love on so many levels.  That’s God’s love for us.  Unconditional.  ‘God demonstrates his love for us in this; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’  It doesn’t mean there are no consequences for our actions.  It means we are loved, no matter what.

It’s the same with our children.  They’ll all make mistakes.  Love transcends mistakes.  They’ll all do things we wouldn’t.  Love does not demand conformity.  Love, to be love, is really unconditional. That doesn’t excuse sin, crime or errors.  It doesn’t allow ‘get out of jail free cards.’  Love doesn’t remove consequences.  But love continues despite every consequence or result of every mistake or wrong.

So with our patients.  Love for them means we do our best.  We care for them.  We are there for them despite the ravages they inflict upon their own bodies.  Despite the neglect of instructions, or the absence of good judgment.  It doesn’t remove the consequences of their mistakes.  But that love says, ‘yeah, that was stupid.  Let me help you.’  It may even say, ‘that was so dangerous, and I’m not going to enable your behavior.  How else can I help you?’

Whomever we care for in our practices, our love must rise above our anger and frustration.  It must do the right thing, even without emotion, despite the lifestyles or wrong choices of those entrusted to us.

Bank robber or small child, love makes us better; fathers and mothers, doctors and nurses.  It doesn’t make us simpletons.  Rather, it lifts us higher so that we can see the folly of our fellow humans, make proper judgments about it, but still come to them with the charity that God asks for all his creatures.


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