This morning I woke up thinking about going to the visitation at the funeral home for my Dad this evening. Thinking about my Dad, I began to think about that both of my parents taught us to love. I admit, I haven’t always been a good steward of the greatest commandments. There have been times in my life when I have allowed pride to get into the way of loving others. Times when I felt I had the righteous indignation to be able to throw the first stone. How wrong I was. I sin and fall short of the glory of God every single day. I am not without sin, and yet Christ Jesus loves me and my parents loved me. “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:36-40)

I never had any of my own children, but I have been blessed with children in my life, who are true gifts. Nieces and nephews that I love and enjoy. When I was married, my husband had a teenage son and a teenage daughter. Even before we were married, my parents loved their new grandchildren – and they never thought of them any differently. I remember a conversation I had with my step-son when my mom died two years ago. He understood when he first met them that they liked him, but he didn’t understand that they loved him. They did. How? “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

I have been so blessed to have true love modeled for me in my life. Parents that showed real love not just to me, but to so many. Our house was a house where people gathered – their friends, our friends – teenagers, people playing pool, cards, dominoes, talking, laughing, crying – everyone was welcome.

The truth is that I haven’t always been as welcoming as my parents were. As I sit to write this out, I have to admit that fear and pride have been the largest detractors. I have allowed the devil to gain a foothold, and that has kept me from allowing His perfect love to flow through me. I give that to my heavenly Father now, asking His forgiveness and that instead He fill my heart with love to share.

Today will be a difficult day as will tomorrow when we have Dad’s funeral. I choose to think of the opportunities to give and share love instead of the loss. My step-children will both be here this weekend. I do love them both as my own. I’m so happy they are coming. I know my Dad would be thrilled. He loved them unconditionally, just as he did my brother and me, and his other grandchildren and great grandchildren (although some are nieces and nephews – but he loved them all as his own).

Dear Lord, thank you for blessing me with a father and mother who modeled true love. I ask that you continue to remind me what is truly important – love – and remind me that fear and pride can be the devil’s foothold in my life that I do not want. Instead, I want to share Your love with others. Amen.