Every morning, I watch Baby Girl (almost 2 1/2) on the video monitor to see if she is stirring. When she starts wiggling around, I go upstairs to get her out of bed and take her to the potty. I pick her up out of her bed and put her blankie on my shoulder. She lays her head down on it, thumb in mouth, and tucks her face in between my cheek and shoulder as I carry her down the stairs.
But recently, as we descended the stairs the sweetest thing happened. She said, “I love you Mommy” and patted me on my back. “What is this blankie that you have on you.” She had never seen my robe before and was stroking it and then trying to take it off of me to wrap herself up in it, “I want to get in it.” I found that so funny. She is a lover of all things soft and a snuggler to boot.
It was so precious to hear her say that she loved me. She, no doubt, has heard it countless times from me and others. But an amazing thing is happening to her developmentally: She is recognizing the feeling of “love” inside herself and then using words to express it. And I get to hear her “I love yous”. She’s now telling Daddy, her siblings, her bear, and the dog how she feels about them.
It’s so lovely to be loved.
Then there is the flip side.
The not-so-sweetest thing.
When someone we love tells us that they hate us.
Eventually, as we grow up, we learn how to hate. It’s not what we are made for but nonetheless, hate finds us. It finds us when we are wronged or it finds us when we see injustice. And then we learn to articulate our hate. Just like this precious 2 year old, who hears “I love you”, feels love, and then says “I love you”, eventually she will have a date with hate.
When the words come from your children’s mouths the blow is hard. It’s unfair. It’s unnatural. Unfortunately, I have, at times, had some children who I have loved me dearly and others who have hated me with passion.
How can I deal with myself, when I am loved by some and hated by others? When the ones I love don’t love me back?
It’s so hard to not be resentful when hatred against you is unfair, unwarranted, or unnatural. And at these times, I look to Jesus. Because I remember how hated he was and how much love he had for those who hated him. In the 5th Chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus is debunking all of the common twists that have been made on God’s laws at that time and he deals with hatred.
“ You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB
We can’t just love those who love us. His charge here is next to impossible though. How do we manage this task, Jesus?
I believe that he is teaching his disciples the how in John, Chapters 13-15. I’m not going to post both chapters but they are a great detailed read.
“ I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:5-11 NASB
How can I love when I don’t feel lovable? How can I love when I am hated?
The how is to remain in the love of Jesus.
If we only love when other’s love us, what is the love that we have? If we only love ourselves when we are lovable, what kind of love is that?
If we want love for others and ourselves to remain, we have to remain in Jesus. Our self-worth is not dependent on who loves us or how lovable we are. All of these things can change; hormones, bad days, temper flares, illnesses, worry. Our roles come and go and so do our relationships. Nothing stays the same.
Our intrinsic value depends on value that God has assigned us. He has assigned us his love and it is a love that will stay.
What happens when we sin? His love stays. When we act-a-fool? His love stays. Jesus knew the flaws of the disciples that he addressed in our passage. No doubt Judas Iscariot was among the hearers, doubting Thomas, and denying Peter. They were imperfect people and he was declaring his love to them despite that.
If you’ll read the John excerpt again you will see that our job is to remain in his love. We remain in his love by keeping his commandments.
Praise God that his love remains with us no matter how others feel about us. We can remain in his love through our obedience to him. Spend some time clinging to him through his word today!