Before I believed them, I saw the words everywhere: on billboards, on bumper stickers, on hand-lettered signs carried by middle-aged men. Even on the roof of a barn.
Jesus Loves You. Three simple words. And I scoffed.
Though they had no tangible meaning for me, I bristled at them. I don’t need Jesus to love me for my life to have meaning.
When I encountered the person of Jesus all of that changed. I knew Jesus loved me because I saw how he cared for Lazarus and his sisters, for the woman at the well, and for the people of Jerusalem whom he longed to gather to himself, like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. I basked in the glow of this newfound knowledge for several years, until the emotional high of conversion mellowed. I was high on the chemicals that made me fall in love, and then, suddenly, it was time to learn to stay, to build a relationship, to attach.
That’s when we started to argue. Or, I argued.
You say you love me, but you weren’t there for me when I was little and had no one else.
You say you love me, but you never answered my most desperate prayers.
All of those outraged prayers were uttered in my first moments of disappointment with God (which, I have to admit, lasted awhile). My disappointment that God lets all of this insanity exist, that it’s not over yet. That we’re just a bunch of sitting ducks on this rotating ball, getting our hearts ripped out of our chests all the time. For…something. It didn’t seem worth it. And more than that, it seemed cruel.
It’s around this time that I had my first child. And I began to understand, just the smallest amount, why God bothered in the first place. I loved her completely, for no reason at all except that she existed. I would do anything to keep her safe, and to see that she had a good life. I had a baby girl, and there was no way out.
Now that I know what life is with a child – with two – I wouldn’t go back. I’d endure all of the confusion of my upbringing because I’d get this happy ending. Now, I don’t know what I’ll say if either of them ever gets taken away. Chances are I’ll rail all over again – and that would be the healthy thing to do – but I hope in the end that I am grateful to God that I had the chance to love in the first place. And I hope I’ll keep on the path of discovering who God is and why S/He put us here in the first place.