I'm reading (again) a great book by Lewis Smedes called "Love Within Limits". A friend lent it to me about a year ago and I've found great comfort in its practical approach to love.
Crazy concept, isn't it, needing to read a book to learn about loving my child? But parenting this kid who does so many unlovable things sometimes causes me to look upon the word "love" in a different light, perhaps, than others.
Wolf's behavior and the struggle of our family to maintain its sense of unity and hope within the storm of uncertainty is daunting. Sometimes I tell people I feel like two separate beings, each with a specific agenda and each possessing her own set of emotions specific to situations relating to Wolf. It is a survival tactic many parents of disabled children possess; we need it to carry on. So, clearly, loving Wolf is not so simple.
The book follows a passage read at umpteen weddings; the Corinthians love song that says "Love is patient, kind, etc. etc. Yes, you know it. But the part I read over and over and over again is the line that says "Love hopes all things."
I had hoped for years (and honestly, in some part of my brain probably still do) that Wolf would wake up one morning and decide to fly through CHYC's ladder of success, be discharged, come back to Alaska and head off to college, taking every part of his time away as a learning and growing experience. He'd be caring and empathetic to his parents and little brother and grandparents and the myriad of people who think about him every day. He would, in short, be all set for life.
That doesn't seem likely to happen. But hear me now, everyone, when I say that is okay. Wolf is who Wolf is, and will be, and ever could be. That kind of love frees us from expectations too high for him to meet, and frees him from feeling like a failure. That is the kind of love that hopes all things.
Smedes says in the book the paradox of love's power is that it sometimes gives new hope only as we let our fondest hopes go. And isn't our life with Wolf one paradoxical experience after another?
That's not always a bad thing. We can't replace what is not present, but we can work with what remains. So that's where we begin.