I have a confession to make. The term “unconditional love” doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzies. In fact, the way I’ve had it explained to me, it seems very cold. I’d almost rather be loved with a few conditions. Or even better, I want to be liked.
I’ve been told unconditional love has to do with actions, not feelings. None of those wishy washy emotions that can mess up things. No, it’s the doing part. It’s action part of love. Acting loving without the emotions of loving. And suddenly it doesn’t sound so loving. I hear the word ‘acting’ and feel like it’s all pretend.
My pastor spent a great deal of time yesterday assuring us God thinks his children (and that includes me!!) are important. It was a message I needed to hear, because I admit my view of God skews way off center about a hundred times a day. I don’t know why it does, but it does. And the whole unconditional love thing always skews it. In my mind, God is looking at me, and he rolls his eyes and says “Wow. What a mess. I don’t really like you, but I decided to save you and accept my son’s sacrifice for you, so I’m stuck doing loving things for you.”
Hm. Kind of an embarrassing view, but sometimes that’s the view I have. Not all the time, but sometimes. Sometimes I forget what my pastor said, that I matter to God. I have to say that again, slowly. I. Matter. To God.
Right now, with my husband’s job situation, we don’t matter much to the world. Since we’re so far beyond the ninety-weeks of benefits, we don’t even show up on the statistics any more. We don’t pay taxes, don’t get government benefits, don’t really exist. We’re very quiet and background in churches, so it’s easy to feel we don’t really matter there. And sometimes that feeling of not mattering spills over. Yes, of course Jesus died for me, I think, but he also died for a whole bunch of other people. Maybe it wasn’t really personal. He just included my name for kicks and didn’t really think much about who I was. You know, actions without feeling. Unconditional love–I’m not worth much, but he chose to include me anyway.
But you know what? God likes me. I forget that, but it’s true, and over the years I’ve decided I want to be liked more than I want to be loved. God says he delights in his people. Delight is a strong word, a happy word. I like to think something in God gets happy when he thinks about me. Sure, I’m a mess, but he likes me. He made me for some purpose, and I fill that purpose, and he likes that. The kingdom of God wouldn’t be the same without me. And that’s kind of cool. And it makes me want more than anything to be the person who will fill those purposes, the person the creator created me to be.
I get the whole unconditional love thing. It really means I can’t do anything stupid or sinful or horrible enough to make God change his mind and toss me out of the family. And maybe someday I’ll remember that when I hear the term. But meanwhile, I want to remember that God likes me. He made me with his own fingers, and he put into the mix everything needed for very specific purposes, the Jill Purposes. Nobody can fill those like I can. Jesus died to rescue me so I could fill those purposes. Jesus will come get me so I can fill those purposes in the final Kingdom, the really awesome one to come. I matter, and that’s not some self esteem thing. I matter because I was made to matter by the God who gets to determine such things. And I’m loved because he has actual emotional attachment to the good things he made. And so I can be loved, and I can be liked, and I can do it without ever becoming big headed about it, because it’s not about me; it’s about him, but it benefits me all over the place. It almost makes no sense, but it works for me.
And, I hope it works for you, too. Because, by the way, as a child of God you matter. You were made to matter. And God doesn’t just act like he loves you, but he does, with delight. And how cool is that?