undeserved love

Monday, October 27, 2014

It bothers me when love is talked about as something that one "deserves" or does not "deserve". When I think about it, love simply is - it depends not on any action of the recipient. This is most obvious to me personally in my relationship with my daughter. Do I love her perfectly? No. But when I really think about it, even when I imagine her potentially doing some of the worst things possible, I can't imagine being able to stop myself from loving her, because my love for her just is. It exists. Would I be crushed? Absolutely. Saddened? Completely. Angry? Yes. But would I stop loving her? I'm only 2 years in to this being a parent thing, but I can't even begin to wrap my mind around how I would begin to stop. There might be a different depth to my love, more of a weight to it perhaps, but it would still be love. In fact, if my love for her could be stopped (and I'm willing to concede that it might be possible, simply because I know I don't love her perfectly), a good portion of the world might say I never really did love her to begin with. We all seem to have this innate knowledge that says that love that can be deserved is no love at all. Already, I love my daughter more and with greater knowledge of the sacrifice of love than I did on the day she was first born.

So when love is talked about as something "deserved" or "undeserved", it makes me feel like love has been cheapened into this thing that can be earned. "Earn" is even a synonym of "deserve" (did I just Google that? Yes, yes I did). One can earn money. One can earn notoriety. One can earn a prison sentence. One can earn points in a game. But one cannot earn love...right?

I guess this bothers me most when applied to God, the one who loves perfectly. I think sometimes when people talk about not deserving God's love, what they really mean is they don't deserve what happened as a result of God's love. There's a song we sing at church that I like, but I can't get past this one part of it that talks about how God "loved a people undeserving". I always get a little stuck there because of these thoughts surrounding love and what it is. The way I see it, it's because of God's love that God took action that we didn't deserve. I certainly don't deserve forgiveness for my sins, but God offers it anyway because of his great love for me - his offer of forgiveness isn't even up to me, it's only within my "control" to accept it. God wants restoration of relationship, and it only happens when forgiveness is offered and taken. But being deserving of God's love is neither here nor there...I'm not sure love is something that can be "deserved".

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