Monday, February 2, 2015

Potatoes Spoil, People Don’t Spoil

Flickr Creative Commons

I knew a woman who worked with children all her life. She was especially good with children we would call “at risk” -- children who acted out, children from rough backgrounds, children who built impenetrable walls to keep others out. In time, she always found a way into their hearts. Children acted differently around her than around others, even their parents. I often remarked on it and she would sometimes say, “Children need a lot of love. You can’t spoil a child with too much love. Potatoes spoil, children don’t spoil.”

Don’t get me wrong. She had boundaries, and when children misbehaved, there were consequences. But the consequences were fair. And the kids she worked with eventually learned that they could depend on her constant love and concern for them through it all. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of day it was, she would be there with arms open.

Can you love someone too much? Perhaps you can show the wrong kind of love, but I’m sure you can’t show too much.

One of my favorite stories tells of a woman who finally decided to ask her boss for a raise in salary. All day she felt nervous and apprehensive. Late in the afternoon she summoned the courage to approach her employer. To her delight, the boss agreed to a raise.

The woman arrived home that evening to a beautiful table set with their best dishes. Candles were softly glowing. Her husband had come home early and prepared a festive meal. She wondered if someone from the office had tipped him off. Or did he just somehow know that she would not get turned down?

She found him in the kitchen and told him the good news. They embraced and kissed, then sat down to the wonderful meal. Next to her plate the woman found a beautifully lettered note. It read: "Congratulations, darling! I knew you'd get the raise! These things will tell you how much I love you."

The supper was perfect. Afterward, her husband went into the kitchen to clean up, and as he left the room she noticed a second card that had fallen from his pocket. Picking it off the floor, she read: "Don't worry about not getting the raise. You deserve it anyway! These things will tell you how much I love you."

Someone has said that the measure of love is when you love without measure. What this man tried to convey to his spouse was total acceptance and love. Whether she succeeded or failed, whether she won or lost, he loved her regardless. Love without measure. Sometimes his love might celebrate her victories and other times it was there to soothe and comfort.

Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa said: "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

Yes, love your family, and also love your friends. For some friends are truly family. Love the people in your life. Love them without measure. And don’t worry about spoilage. Potatoes spoil, people don’t spoil.

-- Steve Goodier

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