If I was in a relationship with someone who loved me unconditionally, and I asked them for something and they did not answer. Why might that be? And if I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of finding out why they had not answered and moved on to something else. What might than mean? And if I forgot all about that absence of an answer as I moved on … Why might that be?
And when their “love” becomes “conditional” … When I begin to realise how many times my questions are ignored (or the answer is no) … When I start to count the smiles v the frowns … When the slights become important than the hugs … When I look for the “no” answers, when I hoard the “no” answers, when “no answer” becomes a “no” answer, when my counting outweighs my love … When I begin to wonder if they love me at all … What do I do then … ?
As a parent I am on the side of God.
And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ Luke 11:5-13
We creations seem determined (mostly) to be stuck in the “terrible two’s”. That short period wherein “Whyyyyyyy” and “No” and “I don’t want to!” and “Look at me – look at me … I WILL have a(nother) tantrum if you don’t say yes!” become a way of life.
When our young creations begin to realise that the universe does not revolve around them – that others inhabit this universe – that others are “loved” (really?) – and “love” means the universe will say nothing (are you for real – “others” – ?) – will say “no” – will say “yes” a lot less than it used to (and a frustrating new concept: “we’ll see” and “maybe later”). And we toddlers never understand. Not then.
Does God answer prayers? Why does God often not answer, and why does God say no. Why does God let bad things happen? Because if God IS God then He shouldn’t. Are you watching God – look at me – look at me – I will have a tantrum if you don’t ….
And that last line of those verses caught my eye: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
And just what does that mean … ?
Maybe that sometimes words are never enough. That no answer is ever enough. But that just being there is the only thing that comes close. “I am with in your strength and joy. I am with you when you are not. I am with always. Even in the darkest times of your life. I am here beside you – inside you – of you – with you – always.” Isn’t that what a parent does? Isn’t that the strength a parent offers? Isn’t that what a parent desires? Isn’t that unconditional love? Even when there are no answers that help?
So I still have no understanding of why “God let’s bad things happen”. (I guess) As a toddler I had no understanding why my tantrums were accepted and loved. Why they were not enough to make Mum/Dad say yes.
As now as a grown-up I know more about love and those two words “yes” and “no” (or a silence). I know now that “love” is more than one word or one silence. I know that bad things do happen. And I know now I will never have all the answers – not the “right answers”.
And most of all …
I have learned that unconditional love does not need all the answers. Unconditional love does not need. It just “is”.