Apr 08, 2009
Love is Terrible
One night, almost ten years ago, I sat in the hospital with my young wife, having no idea that I was just hours away from an event so catastrophic that my entire life as I knew it would come to an abrupt end. It was the birth-day of my first child, Landin. For me, it felt as though I was waiting for something in the mail. I had no idea what was about to happen. It didn't even register with me that my dreams and goals were about to dissolve into nothing. I honestly thought I would go on as before, living my life and chasing my dreams. For me, having a new baby was about as significant as buying a dog or a cat. It may take a little extra time and money, but life would go on as it did before. I wasn't prepared for what was about to take place in my heart.
About five hours after Landin was born, her mother was asleep in the hospital bed, it was the middle of the night and I was holding a miracle. This was our first time alone and in a span of about three minutes, an infant destroyed everything that meant anything in my life. My goals and dreams that weighed so heavy on my list of priorities, suddenly became shallow and uninteresting. The possessions that defined my very existence and validated my manhood, became nothing more than a pile of rocks.
The wife who used to look upon me as the hope of her future, no longer thought and dreamed only of me. In fact, I was put at the bottom of the list. I suddenly went from number one, to number two, in the space of an hour. I went from being footloose and fancy-free to being a prisoner in my own home. No longer could I dine at fancy restaurants and stay out till the wee morning hours. I couldn't even meet a friend at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. My sleep time that was formerly sacred, had been pillaged and red uced to a few hours a night (if I was lucky).
In the following weeks and months, my healthy body began to accept viruses that it had not known since childhood. I was sick more in six months than I was in the previous 30 years. The sleep deprivation began to take a toll and the only thing that kept me going was the hope that things would soon change. Little did I know at that time; I wouldn't catch up on my sleep for another 15 years.
In a very real way, the day Landin was born, I never made it out of the hospital alive. I left all that I thought to be me, in room 201, and I have never been the same. My heart went from being securely and safely protected beneath a sternum and ribcage, to being haphazardly pinned to the shirt of a wobbling one-year-old girl who ran into things and fell on her face 60 times a day. Up until that time, the most terrible thing I could imagine happening in my life was death itself. The image of my death became nothing in comparison to the pain and suffering I would endure if I lost this little child.
In all my years, I can honestly say that when I was given my first child I was given something a thousand times more terrible than anything I had ever imagined. I was given LOVE. The strength and power of that love was so potent that it literally dissolved the flesh from my heart. Every selfish mind-set and mentality that I had picked up in my life came floating to the top and was thrown away. All that was left, was the true me, and a baby named Landin.
When I use the word "terrible," I mean it in a literal sense. It is so huge, so extreme, so audacious, that the only word that accurately describes love is the word terrible. It's not for the faint-at-heart or squeamish. It can overtake an entire life in a matter of minutes.
I know several men who were married with children and one day they announced that they were leaving the wife and kids for another woman. I find that when this happens, I am rarely surprised. It doesn't surprise me because I observed a lack of terribleness in their love for their family long before they made the decision to leave. These men didn't miss a beat when their children were born. Nothing changed for them. They still had their night out with the guys, they still did all the things they wanted to do. Having a child was nothing more than owning a new toy. I could see their mild love manifest in every word and action.
When love is not terrible; terrible things happen. People get injured in terrible ways and sometimes never fully recover. I've come to believe that the most dangerous thing in the world is a non-terrible love.
I admire Oprah Winfrey for her efforts in bringing child molesters to justice. She has exposed a world of darkness in our country that has become an epidemic. It almost seems hopeless when we hear of the dreadful statistics of how many children are molested in our generation. I think we should track down every child molester in America and prosecute them to the fullest extent. I'll even tell you that I personally believe that such an offense is deserving of the death penalty. I secretly long for the day in which that will be the consequences for harming a child in our country.
Having said all of that, I would like to also say that I DON'T believe that the epidemic of child molestation can be stopped by the death penalty or any other means of punishment to the pedophile. In fact, I don't believe that focusing our attention on the pedophile is the correct beginning point. Though we need to attack them with a vengeance, I believe the problem is far deeper than them. I honestly believe that with the vast majority of cases where a child is molested in our country, the blame belongs to the child's parents. Truthfully, I am surprised that no one has ever stated what seems to me to be the obvious precursor to child molestation. I've never seen it addressed once in the media.
When I was a Pastor, I was able to predict with stunning accuracy which children would some day be molested and which children would most likely never be molested. I told three sets of parents in one month alone that it was either presently happening to their child or it was about to happen and in every case, I was right. I could accurately predict this by gauging the amount of terribleness there was in the love of the parents for their children. I observed two kinds of parents: Those whose lives were about them, and those whose lives were about their children.
When love is not terrible, single moms date men on the internet and leave their children with a sitter they barely know. When love is not terrible, parents allow their children tospend the night with someone at school whose parents they've never met, they let their kids run the neighborhood unsupervised all day. A terrible love surrounds itself around the object of its affection and life becomes about protecting and covering that person.
Every single time I see a set of parents on television who are being interviewed about their child being molested, I find myself shaking my head within the first five minutes of the interview saying, "Figures." In the first 30 seconds of the interview, it is almost always more than obvious that they do not possess a terrible love for anyone but themselves. You can see it in their decision-making and thought processes. I find that parents who do possess a terrible love are usually watching the show and screaming at their television sets, "You did what????" "You left your child with whom???" "What the hell were you thinking???"
Let me say here that I know that there are exceptions to this. There are indeed incidents where a molester can get to a child even when his or her parents have a terrible love. Sometimes it just happens, but I have found that it rarely happens! Ninety percent of the time, I find that the parents of a molested child share the same characteristics. Their life is about them; not their children. I know this is bound to offend many people, but if you just observe what I'm talking about, I'm sure you'll recognize it.
I can't tell you how many times I've met a set of parents and came away sincerely worried about their child's well-being. I personally believe that the epidemic of child molestation in America needs to be stopped. I don't believe that pointing the finger at the molester only, is the answer. It's important, but it's not the only answer. I honestly feel that the parents of the child are the ones at fault most of the time. This is a non-terrible generation. Our love isn't terrible any more, and our children suffer because of it.
I don't even think that life begins until we give ourselves over to terrible love. Our constant resistance to it is the cause of most of the pain and disfunction in the world. Love must be allowed to dominate our hearts and swallow us completely. It's the nature of Love to expand and overtake us. If we fight against that; everyone around us well feel the affects. Choking love is a dangerous action. I think it's the reason for the increase in mental illness in America. Almost every horrible thing that happens on our country can be traced back to a non-terrible love.
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