Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Pursuit Of Love In The New Year

My four-year-old daughter and I argue a lot – about who loves the other the most.

“I don't think so, Hannah. I don't think you could possibly love me more than I love you. A mama's love is the biggest.”

“No, Mama,” she says. “My love is the winner. I love you so's SO bigger...” She stretches her arms out in front of me. “It will take all day long.”

All day long. Now that's a big kind of love.

I have thought about the concept of love a great deal throughout this Christmas season. Those ideas of love and grace and peace that are tied in with our Savior just seemed to have permeated this year's holiday in particular for me – and led me to ponder 'what is love' in a deeper way than ever before.

It's no secret that I'm a Christian who believes that God's love is absolutely unconditional, but I could likely never fully convince you of that if you're reluctant to believe it. I do, however, understand why there's so much reluctance. We're not God, so we fail at love.
For me, the most beautiful and striking description of God's love in scripture is that it's unfailing:

“Love never fails.” - 1 Corinthians 13:8. “The earth is full of His unfailing love.” - Psalm 33:5.

It's constant. It's everlasting. It's incapable of fault. Without flaw.

It's perfect.

I have never experienced that kind of love from another human being. I've certainly caught glimpses of it in others, in the significant but fleeting moments of my life, but how could we ever make perfection everlasting when what we know of love in this world is so broken?

There's an eternity to God's love that most of us don't see in the human examples in our lives. That's why our concepts of love can be so vastly different from each other, and also why they can be so incredibly messed up.

Truthfully, I tend to get frustrated this time of year when I see how often God, who is love, gets rejected while other types of 'love' are so readily accepted and embraced.

Does 'unfailing love' mean getting everything we want? Does it mean always tolerating any behavior and never encouraging that it be made better? Does it mean it's okay to be abandoned or used and make promises we'll never keep? Does it mean giving conditional love and expecting unconditional in return?

You would think so, given how human beings treat each other and what we seem to expect from God. We're broken. And our own experiences are too deeply woven into our ideas about love that our past hurts prevent us from truly understanding what 'unconditional' or 'unfailing' love looks like.

There's far too much failure. We are not good enough examples of love for one another. And we are rarely looking to the right source for our example. It's patient and kind, not proud. Not self-seeking. Not keeping score. It's not the selfish mess that we see everywhere we turn.

He loves us all day long. Every day. No matter what. Until forever.

I truly can't imagine what life would look like if we learned how to love like that. Yet it's what we were born to dolove one another. We should pursue it the way that it pursues us, in an endlessly steadfast, unrelenting sort of way. Never giving up on finding it and learning how to truly give it. That's the kind of New Year's Resolution we should all jump at the chance to make.