Many of you have probably heard about or even viewed the game show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” The premise behind the show is that adult contestants compete against several fifth graders to answer correctly questions from basic categories such as math, English, science and so forth. Usually the adult flounders around for the answer, trying desperately to dust the cobwebs from a part of the brain that hasn’t been exercised in some time, while the fifth graders are fighting for the chance to blurt out the correct response.
I thought it would be interesting to find out if we adults are smarter than fifth graders when it comes to matters of the heart. I asked about 15 of my son’s classmates the basic question: what is love? I wanted to capture their thoughts on the subject before life had a chance to steal their innocence, place demands on them, and in general, warp their idea of what love truly means. Some of the responses made me laugh–others brought tears to my eyes. Here are a few of my favorites:
Love is…”doing something really bad and still getting hugged when you get home from school.”
This one came from a boy that has struggled to stay out of the principal’s office this year. What he is really saying is that his parent’s are forgiving of him — even when he messes things up again and again. He has the basic understanding that their love for him never wavers. Although they may be disappointed with his choices, his mom greets him with open arms and an embrace filled with compassion and grace. Often marriages are filled with unrealistic expectations and demands of one another. So much so, that there is virtually no room left for forgiveness and understanding. When you’re disappointed by your spouse, try opening your arms and filling your response with unconditional love.
Love is…”my dad coming to all my games and cheering for me.”
This boy was reminding me that an important component of love is the action(s) that you put behind your words. Not only do we want to look in the stands of life for our spouse, we want them to be our loudest cheerleader! As we attempt to gain the point, we want to hear their encouraging words and know they are behind us whether we win this round or not. Are you a supporter — present in your spouse’s life? Do you speak powerful words of truth or do you cast doubt into the lives of those you claim to love?
Love is…”always nice and never hurts your feelings.”
This girl knew the pain of the wounded spirit. She, no doubt, had experienced the heartache of being let down by someone that should have known better. Lashing out in anger or hurting your spouse intentionally leaves deep scars that often mar the landscape of your marriage permanently. We can all learn from this youngster’s admonition to treat one another just the way that we would want to be treated — or even better than we would want to be treated!
Love is…”being adopted!”
I wish I could have bottled the sheer joy radiating from this little girl. She knows the love story behind her adoption — the longing and prayers of her parents, and finally the pure happiness of her arrival in their home. Most of all, she realizes that she is wanted and belongs. In the same sense, we are all adopted into our heavenly Father’s family. He longs for us to fill a spot at His table, and His invitation is one of unconditional love. In marriage, your spouse should know that they are the answer to your heart’s desires. They should have no doubt that their place at the table is meaningful and special and can only be filled by them.
My son gave my favorite answer: Love is…”eternity.” So great was God’s love for us that he gave His son’s life that we might spend eternity with Him. There is no other example of love that can compete. It is the foundation on which we should build our love of others upon.
So I challenge you to the quiz show question: in love and marriage, are you smarter than a fifth grader? Maybe we could all dust the cobwebs from our minds and hearts and search for those basic truths we learned so long ago.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Copyright © 2007 Dawn Emeigh. All rights reserved. Dawn is the CMM Editor at Covenant Marriage.