The Bible has been referred to as God’s love letter to us. Verse after verse assures us that His love is unfailing, unconditional, and unending. We are to be rooted and established in this love, the width, length, height, and depth of which surpasses knowledge. It is also promised that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height of depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 If I’m reading this correctly, it appears that the God of the universe who never lies is promising to us that there is nothing, no sin, no failure, nothing that could make Him stop loving us. What an awesome truth this is.
Yet there are times I’m not quite sure I truly understand this or perhaps even really believe it in my heart. In moments of failure, moments when I see my faults with horribly clarity, I am actually quite nearly certain that God could stop loving me because these things are so totally unlovable. It is in those moments that I scramble to do better, to make myself more lovable or perhaps, just lie to myself and try to pretend that the less than lovable parts of me just really aren’t there. It produces in me a certain anxiety, an absurd fear that God might “find out” that I’m not really that great after all. I think what lies at the root is a misunderstanding of identity and why God even loves us in the first place.
I have been a nanny for the last few years and it has led to several insights that I think are key to understanding God’s love for us. To put it bluntly, children are unabashedly selfish, vengeful, and irrational. They see small and think small, seeking to gratify only the impulse of the moment, without much thought to consequences or the future or anything lasting. Their natures are undeniably sinful and yet, they are also delightful things of beauty. Each one is a unique bundle of personality with the remarkable capacity for love, goodness, creativity, and growth.
Parents know all of this about their children, the good and the bad. They are completely aware of their sinful nature, all the gaps and flaws that come with it and yet, they love them still. They love them even when they are completely unlovable. How is this possible? How can someone love what is not lovable? It is possible because parents do not love their children because they are lovable but because they are their children. Of course, I have never been a parent, but I can imagine what a thing of wonder it must be to look on a person, complete with a myriad list of faults and shortcomings, and know that you made them, that they belong to you in a way that nothing and no one else ever will. I can imagine how much love and delight I would feel for them, not because they were perfect, but because they were mine.
God’s love is like this. He created our inmost beings, wove us together in the secret place, knew all of our days before one of them came to be. We are His idea, His workmanship. He delights in all our ways that make us unique because that is the way He designed us to be. He loves us unconditionally because we are unconditionally His. We are His children and indeed, we are children in every sense of the word. We are selfish, small-minded, and often foolish to the point of destruction. We are inherently flawed, inevitable failures, and daily testimonies to our own imperfection.
God knows all of this, but He is not anxious. He is not wringing His hands, wondering if He’ll have to stop loving us. He does not despair and so, neither should we. Don’t be mistaken. Just like a Father, He will discipline us and He will mold us to work out those flaws of our make up, but He will do it within the boundaries of the unshakable realm of His love, boundaries preset by the very fact that we are His children whom He died to make His own.
So, I have found that when I do feel a kind of anxiety over my “unlovableness”, it is because I have failed to grasp who I am and why God loves me. I am a child of God. My entire identity, all my hope, and all my assurance of His love rests in the simple, but profound truth that I am His and He is mine. At this realization, all doubts are silenced, all questions answered.
Therefore, be reminded of this: You are wholly, lavishly, and irrevocably loved by God. His love for you was sealed even before the day He created you and it really is a love that surpasses knowledge. It cannot be overcome, but it overcame death. It cannot be shaken, but it shook lose our bonds to sin. It cannot be changed, but it changes us. It is the love of God the Father for His children. So, if you find yourself in moments or situations when you are completely unlovable, do not be anxious. For you are not loved because you are lovable. You are loved because you are His.