Tuesday, February 23, 2010

because it's not just for valentine's day

lent has me thinking about what Love is really all about. in this season of waiting and thinking and praying, of restraint and sacrifice and quiet, what is it that we're really waiting for?

i asked luke in the car the other day why he thinks God loves him. without missing a beat, he said, "because i love Him." when i quizzed him further--do you ever think it's because you're smart or a good soccer player or a good friend?--he said no way. it's just because He made me.

just because He made me.

our culture is all about earning things. clear your plate to earn dessert. clean your room to get a pat on the back. get good grades to get into a good college. do a good job on a project at work to get a raise. host a good party to earn your guests' approval. dress up nicely to merit a compliment. we do it to each other all the time, and we do it to our kids from day one: when's the last time i gave luke a pat on the back just because? thanked a friend just for being who she is? we live in a mercenary society in which we think we need to earn anything we get, and we reinforce it in each other's lives daily.

which is why, i think, at least for me, it's so hard to get it through my head that i can't earn God's love. ever. no way. nothing i do or say is going to get me any closer to that perfect gift than i already am. i cannot get my head around that kind of love, the kind that gives you a pat on the back for no reason at all, the kind that says, "i love you" no matter how unloveable your behavior is, just because you are. it's so counterintuitive, so countercultural.

except once in a while when i'm reminded of eliza and i'm reminded of the love i had--still have--for her, of the intensity and purity of that love that she never did one thing to earn. she never did one thing at all, really, except inadvertent things that took years off my life from the stress and exhaustion; she never did one loveable thing at all. but there was no question, not one day of her life, that i loved her fully and completely and purely. unlike with luke or with sam or with my family or with any number of other people, for whom my simple love is clouded by things i love about them, with eliza there was no confusion: it wasn't that i loved things about her. i just loved her.

and if i'm capable of even a little bit of selfless love like that, why is it so hard for me to imagine that God loves that way all the time?

that's what lent is all about. that's what we're waiting for; that's what's good about good friday, what we rejoice in on easter. the kind of Love that gives up everything for a bunch of unloveable sinners is the same kind of Love that cannot--ever--be earned or lost no matter what we do, diminished or increased no matter how successful we are. it just is (if we'll just accept it), and that's what we're anticipating in this season. that's what we're looking forward to, the reminder of what we already have: unconditional Love, just because He made us.

[maybe you already know that. maybe you've heard enough sermons about why it's good we don't get what we do deserve and we do get what we don't deserve that you really didn't need another reminder. but i can do with a reminder myself once in a while. it's good to just say it, to claim that truth once in a while. thanks for reading along anyhow.]


Alex said...

mind meld, indeed!

great stuff, daniele, thanks for sharing it from the depths of love mixed with pain mixed with redemption...

Laura L. said...

This is my FAVORITE thing you've written so far! So much to think about...

Love you,

Em the luddite said...

I appreciate this a lot, Daniele. It has baffled me in recent times when people tell me I "deserve" to get into a PhD program, that I earned it somehow. I couldn't put my finger on what was strange to me about that, and I think you did it here. Thanks.

Rebecca said...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I'd like to learn that-- to believe that-- too.