In youth group this week, we were talking about God as our Father. When I got the girls into small group, one of them looked at me and said, “I get that God loves us, but what I don’t understand is why.” She then expounded upon what horrible beings we are and basically asked why God even bothers with us.
It’s probably a good thing that I don’t think it’s my job to give answers, but to spark discussion, because those girls have rendered me speechless time and time again.
Because I don’t think there’s a “why” answer when it comes to love.
Love is not something that can be explained logically; it simply is. At some point you make a choice, conscious or unconscious, to love another person and that is simply what you do. If we flawed human beings can figure that out, wouldn’t you suppose that a perfect God would be capable of the same thing?
The love my student was describing to me had stipulations. God should love us… until we fail Him, in which case He should turn His back on us forever.
But that’s not what love does. And God is Love, so that’s not what God does either.
So here this girl is asking me why, and I’m simply sitting there with my mouth poised in an answer that never comes. Because I don’t have an answer. Not really. I can’t explain why God loves us even when we spit in His face any more than I can explain why I still love my brother even though he once punched a tooth out of my mouth.
He’s my brother, and I love him; we’re God’s children, and He loves us. I could have said that to my student the other day, but I don’t think it’s a satisfactory answer for most people. I don’t know why it is for me.
I’m always a little hesitant to say this because it seems like it shouldn’t be possible, but I’ve never had a problem with the Unconditional thing. Maybe it’s because I spent a lifetime in church, where it has been permanently ingrained in my being. Maybe it’s because I have parents who would still welcome me home if I showed up on their doorstep pregnant or strung out on drugs. Or maybe it’s because my personality type according to Disney has been summarized as “Most likely to remain faithful to you even after being transfigured into an anthropomorphic clock under a curse that you caused.” (I never saw any similarities between me and Cogsworth until that moment, but now I kind of feel like I need to watch Beauty and the Beast for the hundredth time.)
In any case, I can do the Unconditional thing. I think that’s the piece of God’s image He gave specifically to me, and I’m grateful for it. Even though it has torn my heart asunder a thousand times, I’m glad I can still love freely and deeply.
Because I want to be the one who would leave the porch light on for my children to come home—perhaps in far worse shape than I would choose to find them—but home nonetheless.
I’ve always only ever wanted to be someone you can come home to.
I had a conversation with a preschooler one day. She sat down on the bench next to me, screwed up her face like she was thinking real hard, and finally asked, “Why does Brookie love you so much?”
As if I could know the motives of a child who couldn’t yet speak a word more than my name. As if I could put words to what happened in my heart when I first held her infant form in my arms. I chose her, and she chose me, and there’s not a child or teacher in that school who doesn’t know that Brooke is Miss Rebekah’s baby. How do you explain something as miraculous as that?
“I don’t know,” I said. “Why do you love me so much?”
There was a moment’s pause as she thought about it. “I don’t know.”
And she snuggled up under my arm because the whys didn’t matter.
Because she knew she’d always have a place between my shoulder and my heart.
I love her, and she loves me, and it’s the sort of thing that’s unconditional.
And we all need a little bit of unconditional.