“I love you AND I like you, Mom,” she said out of the blue. What? Where did THAT come from? We weren’t shopping, she wasn’t making a plea for a last-minute sleepover, and Christmas was over so there was no hope for additional gifts. Nope. The words came without warning and without an agenda. Words that made me smile and caused me to pause and ponder this profound wisdom. How wonderful it felt to be loved, but especially liked, by my 16-year old daughter! I liked her too, at that moment. But, I must admit, sometimes I didn’t like her so much. There were days when I didn’t like her behavior, her attitude, nor her style choices. But, despite our differences, I always loved her, unconditionally.
I loved her on that early drive to school, but I didn’t like her at all when the silence was broken by that annoying, very odd music on her IPOD. We were not morning compatible, we decided later. But, right now, she liked me, and I liked her, too. It was not morning. It was a good day, so I was savoring the moment. Who knew what tomorrow would bring.
This lesson became clear to me, not only from my teenager recently but years earlier from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his sermon titled, “Loving your Enemies.” In it, he explains the difference between like and love with his prophetic wisdom:
“‘Love your enemy.’ And it’s significant that he does not say, ‘Like your enemy’… There are a lot of people that I find difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like.”
I agree. Love your enemies, love your friends, love your neighbors, love even those strange relatives (especially now that they’re gone) and especially love your kids even if you don’t like them at times. Now that school is back in session it should be a lot easier!