I am reading voraciously at the moment. Mainly theological texts, ones that offer hope and encouragement, and freedom. One thing that a lot of the writers agree upon is that Christ invites us into a loving relationship with God. That nothing we’ve done or ever will do, will make God love us anymore, or any less. In the words of Frère Roger of Taizé, “all God can do is love”.
I don’t dispute this. In fact, I don’t know that I know anybody who would. But for me, it’s hard to hear about relationships and God. I was reflecting on this when I was preparing a reading for church last Sunday. What is a loving relationship? The text I had told me that
“love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
And I became even more scared than I already was, that I do not love God – or anyone – and never have. Not that I am falling short of one or two of the above characteristics – none but God can love perfectly – but in all of them.
I don’t know that I love God. I go to Christ when things go wrong, seeking comfort or some other thing for myself. I do not persevere day by day in prayer. I often fail to pray at all. I have very little trust that God will look after things for me. Impatience, for God to put things right, is my middle name.
I don’t know that I love others. I look to them for what I need, sometimes desperately, but for what I need, nonetheless. As soon as they do something I don’t like, I am angry and despise them, however highly I esteemed them before. Until they do something positive again. I bear grudges. I can’t let go of times when I’ve been let down, however hard I try to. I never truly forgive. I am jealous of their successes and happiness, and cannot honestly rejoice with them. I fear that people I know well, am attached to, may get hurt or move away.
I am moved by glimpses of God’s love for me. I feel a calm and peace in prayer I can find nowhere else. Sometimes, I feel held. I enjoy that time. I was stopped in my tracks earlier this week by someone saying that I am their friend. I want to be that to them. I try to be kind to others, to please them, to have them like me. I admire and respect things in them. I enjoy spending time with them, too.
I’m not sure that this counts as love. I know it falls short of the outline above. Is it love, nonetheless? What if I can’t truly love others, or God? This is my deeply flawed attempt at relationships. I long to love others better, to love God more. Please, Christ, in spite of everything, help my love be more like yours.