Donna Weston, Founder and Executive Director
Kids can be cruel. I remember growing up and not being as “cool” as other kids. I was smart, but socially awkward. I was loud, obnoxious, and bossy. I was long limbed and gangly – called “Daddy-long-legs” by my classmates in elementary school – not intended to be a complement. I was not easy to love and I hated elementary school!
It is not easy being “low man on the totem pole” or just different for whatever reason – social, physical, cultural, developmental issues, or learning difficulties. It is often painful to feel different, and sometimes the response to being shunned is to act out, making it even more difficult for those who are supposed to love on us to be able to do so.
Perhaps ironically, my first major growth in the area of loving those difficult to love came when I was raising my three sons.
Parenting is challenging under the best of circumstances, but when Ryan (my middle son) reached school age and he absolutely could not learn how to read, we hit a major parenting wall. Little did we know that in addition to congenital heart defects, learning challenges and ADHD, he was also ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). He had difficulty viewing ANYONE as having authority over him. We had to deal with rebellion, not just at the character level, but also at the neurological level. Imagine the terrible two’s and teenage rebellion combined, and on steroids! Being his mother taught me a lot about what it means to love…and how to love those who are, at least at times, unlovable.
I vividly remember frequently crying out to God for help! I wanted to be a good mom…but more than that, I wanted my sons to grow up healthy in every way possible…and I wanted them to know that they were loved. I remember reading 1 Corinthians 13 with my parenting eyes. “Love is patient.” You know, I always thought I was a patient person - until I became a parent! “Love is kind” not “rude”, as I mentally slapped my hand over my mouth. “It is not proud.” I certainly learned how to eat humble pie and apologize. “It is not irritable, and it keeps no records of wrongs.” I had to let go of the little things and learn how to forgive - the little and big things – and then NEVER bring them up again.
I Corinthians 13 is a powerful chapter of the Bible: What does love look like and how do I love others? We all have people in our lives that are difficult to love, often within our own families. My husband and I had to learn how to really love Ryan, unconditionally, and in our case, we were incredibly blessed in that the final outcome was wonderful. We have an amazing relationship with him – open, honest, and yes, loving. And you know, in the process of learning how to love, I think we all became more lovable too.
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