Friday, November 20, 2009

Love Never Fails?

I subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter called "Upwords with Max Lucado" - an established christian author whose reflections on biblical concepts are refreshing and easy to read.

Today's article was on 1 Corinthian's 13: 8 - "Love Never Fails." In a nutshell, Lucado reflects on the truth that unfailing love is only accomplished by God alone.

It made me think about the quality of my love as a mother. People like to generalize and say that parents' love for their children is unconditional.

In some ways, yes - loving one's own flesh and blood is probably the closest approximation of this thing we call unconditional love.

But is it really unconditional?

Then explain to me how it is that when I see my child reject his dinner and abjectly refuse to behave in the way I want to him to, an anger wells up inside of me that I never thought I was capable of feeling?

And when I receive his end-of-year progress report book from his nursery teacher, why I should allow an inexplicable sense of disappointment to creep in at the column marked "Needs Improvement" for "Child is able to share toys" or "Knows his shapes/ numbers".

The truth is, in my fallen state, I am not able to love unconditionally, as Christ does.

It's easier to love my child when he is lovable - obedient, well-mannered, clever, articulate.

When he is acting in an unlovable manner... it gets admittedly more challenging. It's as though he's broken the unwritten covenant between mother and child, tearing down the natural authority I have in his life, breaking the deep-seated expectations that I never even realized were there.

In times like these I realize in the same way, I have utterly and abjectly disappointed God in the many sinful thoughts and prideful choices I've made in my life, and wonder how it is possible that His love is so great to see past it.

It disturbs me that in extreme situations and circumstances, my love for my children can indeed fail. I am disconsolate, and filled with dismay about my limits.

Yet, I'm still going to strive for a perfect love in this life. If my child is to see in me the quality of God's unfailing love in our lives, I desparately need to grow closer and closer in my walk with Him, and understand Him more and more.

There is a powerful lesson in rearing children for parents, I think.

When God gazes down on each and everyone of us, what he sees is a perfect creation, his own handiwork, a lovable soul with whom he wants to share eternity with. This is possible only because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross!

In Love's gaze, we are washed whiter than snow, and made perfect even in our broken, damaged state.

When I gaze on these two lovely forms before me, may I see them as God sees them too - imperfect, but unfailingly loved by God.

May my life demonstrate the gratitude of this truth.


  1. Hey Dan, thoughtful and reflective post here.
    I think that's normal of all parents though.

    And I think why we would feel angry when they refuse to listen to us is cos we love them? I tell the boys I get very angry when they don't eat their food properly because I want them to be healthy cos I love them so much. And if they don't eat properly, I worry they will be sick, hence I get angry, all because I love them too much.

    Likewise I get furious when they disobey safety rules, like when they dash out into the road without looking. I get so furious I will drag them back home right away and shout at them a long long lecture. I tell them I feel so angry because they could've gotten seriously injured, and I wouldn't want that to happen because I love them.

    And I would be disappointed too, if I had taught them something, and they hadn't displayed that quality outside, in school or whatever. Is it because I don't love them unconditionally, or is it because I love them so much that I hope they can be good all the time and since they lapse sometimes, I feel disappointed?

    It's hard to know the answers sometimes, indeed!

  2. Hey Anna, in some ways you are right. Much of my anger and frustration does indeed stem from loving my kid and wanting the best for him.

    But also some of it is selfish anger - a grumbling kind of malcontent rooted in me wondering my kid has to make my life so very difficult.

    In Corinthians 13, we're reminded that love is patient and love is kind, it keeps no record of wrongs and bears no grudges.

    As a parent, I'm afraid I do lose my patience and punish my child out of anger and a sense of being wronged.

    Although I can still justify to him by saying that I'm punishing him because I want his good - deep in me I know there is a better way to manage myself in such situations.

    Years down the road, the question I ask myself is - will I remember all this, and allow it to put a price on my love for my kid?