This past Sunday, our pastor talked about several Greek words for love. The one that struck me was agape. He defined it as a very unconditional and voluntary love. When I heard that definition, I couldn't help but think about Elliott and the love demonstrated by children in general. I'm not sure there is a more unconditional love on earth. I wonder in the case of a child if ignorance might foster that unconditional nature.
I've thought back though to many of the young men I worked with who had less than desirable family situations. Many of them had fathers in prison, fathers who had walked out on them without so much as a good-bye note and many of them fathers they had never met. Yet, it was a very small percentage of these boys who claimed anything other than love for those very fathers. In their own unconditional way, I've no doubt they meant it.
It goes a long way towards explaining the often violent anger in some of these boys and the withdrawn look of abandonment in others. For a child to give love so voluntarily, so unconditionally, only to discover the recipient placed a condition on returning love that just couldn't be met, I would guess that is hard to deal with.
I can only guess; my dad was always there to reciprocate my love, no matter how hard things got. That example and the effect it has had on my life serves as a daily reminder of the importance of my role as a dad. If that isn't enough, it only takes a moment of imagining the endless love Elliott supplies us each day somehow going unappreciated. I often wonder how so many people can live with that picture framed around their own children - I'm certain it's not easy.