Monday, May 3, 2010

Peanut butter days

I Corinthians 13: 4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I've always loved peanut butter. When I was a young girl, my favorite place to be was with my best friend. I used to love to go and spend the night at her house. Playing, pretending, and laughing with her was the best thing ever. At her house, I always felt at home and special. I guess it was because, at my house, there were so many of us, and at hers, it was just her and I. One of the best things about her house was the little things that her mother, Mrs. Chris, would do for us. She would take out art supplies, and scatter them all over the dining room table, so we could do crafts. I thought she had the neatest art supplies I had ever seen. Construction paper, glue, glitter, ...you name it, she had it. She would give us puppet shows and play dress up with us. But, even better than the art supplies, the puppet shows, and the dressing up, were her peanut butter sandwiches. Mrs. Chris made the world's best peanut butter sandwiches. She would first toast two slices of wheat bread. Then, she would spread creamy peanut butter on both slices of bread, while it was still warm from the toaster. The peanut butter would melt right onto the bread. Then she would close the slices together perfectly, and cut them into two triangles. She would serve them on small, hard plastic plates, along with matching plastic cups, filled to the rim with milk. When you would eat it, the peanut butter would drip off the sides of the bread. Oooey Gooey Delicious! I can still taste it. It wouldn't just warm my mouth, it would also warm my heart. At my house, things were always crazy. There were eight of us, so time had to be shared amongst all of us. It seemed as though my Mom was always tired. My mother, being unable to leave her bed for days at a time, due to her ongoing depression, wasn't able to do things like Mrs. Chris did. My mother knew that my favorite food was peanut butter, so she had her own way of feeding my pleasure. She would buy me lots of peanut butter! Back in the day, (wow..i'm getting old when I have to say it that way) you could buy peanut butter by the bucket. Yes...the bucket! It was literally a pail of peanut butter, that even had a handle to carry it with. Man..it was a peanut butter lover's dream. I would sit in front of the television, to watch my cartoons, and eat it with a spoon. My mom knew how much I loved it, and even told the other kids that the peanut butter was just for me. My heart was full! Or, was it that my stomach was full? Oh well..you get the picture. Both of those ladies knew how to get to my heart...through my stomach! But, it actually wasn't the peanut butter that filled my heart, it was that they knew me and knew what I loved. They took time in their own way to give it to me. I've thought about this alot while growing up and now that I am an adult, I see things clearer. I battled for years with the way my mother chose to raise us. Her sickness somehow drowned out her ability to mother us. I longed for many years to have that, "Beverly Cleaver" type of mom. The fact of the matter is, I thought she could have done much better than she did. Or could she? Maybe, the way she loved me, was the only way she knew how. Sure, she didn't get out of bed everyday, and put on a pretty dress. She didn't do puppet shows or take the time to make me a toasted peanut butter sandwich. But, she still loved me enough to give me what she thought I wanted. My older sister said something a few years back that has stuck with me ever since. She said, "Maybe Mom couldn't give us the love that we wanted, but she gave us the love that she could, the only love that she knew. It doesn't matter what kind of box love comes in. It just matters that you get it. Why complain that we didn't get it in a square box? When we still got it in a round one." That really struck home with me. I could spend the rest of my life in bitterness, and full of anger, for not having what I thought I deserved from her, but what would I learn from that? Love can't grow in bitterness. And the fact that my mom gave it to us in a "round box", fits her perfectly. She never did anything that made perfect sense anyway. She had her own way of doing everything. The point is, love takes all kinds of shapes. It can come in little triangles, or in a big bucket. But, as long as it is there, that is what matters. And even though, she didn't give it to me the way that I thought she should have, I always knew that I was loved by her. We spend so much time disecting how we think others should love us or treat us, and we don't see the actual person that is giving it to us. We don't have the compassion to see, that what they are giving, is sometimes all that they have to give. I've learned as a mother, that love can be given in many ways. Some days it comes in giggles and smiles. Some days it comes in stern discipline, punishment and even yelling, "Go to your room!" Some days it comes in listening to hours of "my friend said..". Some days it comes in sitting on the couch and watching a movie together. Some days it comes in putting a bandaid on a cut. Some days it comes in spending two hours cooking the perfect meal. Some days it comes in picking up McDonald's happy meals. Some days it comes in letting them climb in bed with you when they have had a nightmare. Some days it comes in a simple prayer for their safety or happiness. Some days it comes in the form of tears over their broken heart. It's never the same, and it's never perfect...but it's love. So, my mom wasn't perfect and I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to be better than she was. But, isn't that the point anyway? Doesn't God want our love to grow? Isn't love suppose to get better and grow stronger with time? Shouldn't we strive everyday to love harder and in new ways? Yes, yes, yes and yes! God intended that our love for Him, and others, should grow and become better with each passing day, and each growing generation. If that is what I have learned from getting my peanut butter in a "bucket" or my love in a "round box", I would say that...Mom did a pretty good job afterall. Love hard today! Love better today! Love in a new way today! However you do it, don't stop. Allow God to grow seeds of love where there are weeds of bitterness. Spread the love of God and help love grow! I love you Mom...thanks for all that peanut butter! I Peter 4:8, "Above all, love eachother deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

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