Love = Forgiveness and Acceptance

-heart-as-a-gift-declaration-of-loveWith Valentine’s Day a recent memory, I’ve been thinking about love and what it really means.  Too many times, I think we only think of love as romance or simply a warm affection.  I’ve concluded that sometimes love means forgiveness and acceptance, and from my experience, it’s this kind of love that has the greatest power to transform.

Some time ago, I agreed to be a tutor at the small community college where I teach.  I was paired up with a student whom I’ll call Joanie, and we began to work on her Composition I class work.  She was not the first student I had tutored, so I had certain expectations about her progress during our time together.  Our second meeting crushed those expectations, though, as the very concepts we went over at the first meeting were forgotten by then.  In fact, some of the writing work we did together had been erased or accidentally reworded, to the point that we had to start over again. It was like the movie 50 First Dates every time we met.  She would completely forget, and oftentimes completely undo, everything we had accomplished during the earlier meeting.

Needless to say, I was ready to pull my hair out after the first few meetings.  But she was so sweet, so excited to learn (even if she didn’t retain it), that pretty soon I realized that I needed to stop emphasizing the idea of progress and simply address her questions and concerns during that meeting.  As long as I held to the idea of moving her along to greater understanding, I experienced frustration.  Once I simply focused on helping her with her concerns, I was able to put in my hour of work, knowing that I had helped her, loved her, and treated her with the respect she deserved as a human being.1human-hands-hold-heart-shaped-burning-candle-against-dark-background

Although there is nothing wrong with the idea of progress, I think that when we allow it to affect our relationships, it can be a hindrance because we start expecting others to learn, to see, and to do as we do, not allowing for the individuality that was created by the Triune God.  This reminds me of the saying, “We all get different things at different times.”  By understanding the practice of presence and place sharing, forgiveness and acceptance, we are transformed.

Not too long ago, I read a comment someone made to a Face book friend about a posting he made that was very encouraging and uplifting about God’s love for all humanity.  This comment made by this person was very legalistic, discouraging, and simply untrue.  My first response was to comment back in an argumentative fashion, forgetting the lesson learned through my 50 First Dates tutoring experience.  Then I realized, or remembered, that it’s not my job to create progress or understanding (in anything, really), but God’s.  I don’t have to change anyone’s thinking about anything.  My only job is to love God and allow that love to flow through me to others.  Any transformation that takes place comes from the Father, Son, and Spirit, not me.  I am not responsible – God is – and I can forgive myself for momentary lapses like this one where I forget that.  Accepting others’ fallibility as well as my own and forgiving others and myself is where I find transformation and peace.

~by Nan Kuhlman

6 comments so far

  1. teen mom to teens on

    Beautiful! 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Teen Mom to Teens,

      I appreciate your kind word and smiling face!


  2. Jerome Ellard on

    A very timely post, Nan! I just (like yesterday?) went through something similar to your experience with a young friend that left GCI over our beliefs. I’ve known him since he was a boy, and he has always been special to me. Before/after he left a few years ago, I’d sometimes email him something that encouraged me, but always got the same Repent Or Else response, always delivered in a loving way, I have to say. I did it again the other day, and got the same response – but it’s ok! We remain friends and we both remain in His hands. Your post was confirmation of that. Thanks!

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      Thanks for sharing your story!


  3. Jeannine on

    Wonderful post, Nan. I’m trying to homeschool my 1st Grader, along with my almost-kindergartner and brand new baby. I can feel frustrated and overwhelmed when it seems there just isn’t enough time to properly focus on my 1st Grader due to the many needs of my younger two – and I worry whether we are progressing as much as we could be. This post helps me put in into perspective – spending time together, even if we get regularly side-tracked, is what is important and what will matter to me (and my kids) in the future far more than “progress.”

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      I remember having the same worries when our children were small, and I was homeschooling them. It really does work out OK :).


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