I have often heard that becoming a parent helps people to get a better understanding of how God feels about us. I remember thinking that when my niece was born. Even though she wasn’t my own child, the first time I saw her I knew I loved her and I would do anything for her. She did nothing to deserve my love , she didn’t even ask for it, but I loved her anyways. Evie gave me a good picture of unconditional love, but this morning I was reminded of another picture of unconditional love.
I work for a group home whose core values statement says the following:
It is our core belief that all human life is intrinsically valuable. The value of life is not diminished because a person is disabled, unborn or near the end of life. Value is not determined by whether the person is independent or totally dependent on others. It is not based on productivity or on physical or intellectual potential or accomplishments. Value is not dependent on whether a person has family relationships or friendships. It is not contingent on being wanted, loved or admired. Human life is intrinsically valuable and worthy of dignity and respect simply because it exists.
That statement gives me chills every time I read it.
There are two different types of houses in the company that I work for: medically fragile and behavioral. I work in a behavioral house. One of my ladies is mostly non-verbal and can get physically aggressive in the form of hitting, scratching, biting, and kicking. She doesn’t have the words to communicate what she wants, so that is her natural go to when something is bugging her. (If I were to be honest, I think that would be my natural go-to as well, if I didn’t have the reasoning or social constructs that keep me from kicking people when they frustrate me. Trust me. I often would like to.)
But anyways, these types of behaviors are what we deal with often. Not every day, but often enough. My staff bear the physical scars from this job. They bear the emotional scars that come along with it too. How many people stick with a job where they are in physical danger every day? Well, a lot actually. (Firemen, policemen, soilders, etc.) How many twenty-something-year-old girls are in a job that they are in physical danger every day? Not many.
But you know what’s awesome about our staff? THEY’VE STUCK WITH IT.
Why? Why would they do that?
They get it. Only one of our staff is a parent. The other fourteen of us have our ladies to teach us about such things. It doesn’t matter what our residents do, we still love them unconditionally. We still take care of them, still are involved in their lives, still do the best we can to make their lives as happy and healthy as possible. Partly because it is in our job description, partly because we know them so well and care about them so much that it is no longer in our nature to give them less than our best. Even if they are physically violent, or keep saying the same thing over and over and driving us up the wall, we still love them.
And we do so knowing that our love can never be reciprocated in the same way. But we are not perfect in our unconditional love.
God’s love for me is perfectly unconditional. It is not contingent on whether I do what I think he wants me to do, or behave how I think I should. It’s not contingent on whether I go to church every Sunday or help those less fortunate than I. It’s not contingent on whether I kick people when I’m mad at them or just curse them out in my head. It’s not contingent on whether I have my theology 100% correct or read my bible every day. It’s not contingent on whether I do my job to the best of my abilities and get straight As in school. It’s not contingent if I drink too much and make poor choices. It’s not contingent on what I do at all. There is nothing I can do to make God love me more or love me less. He just does.
Just like a parent loves their baby who does nothing for them but keep them up during the night and make them bend to her every need.
Like a staff whose quality of care isn’t dependant on a residents behavior.
I need to stop living like I can earn God’s love and start living out of God’s love. I need to stop trying to prove that I’m worthy of it, and instead live life knowing that I am unworthy of it but God lavishly pours out his love on me anyways, and now I am to pour that love onto others.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”- 1 John 4:7-12