Does unconditional love thrive in any situation?
I just read a post by Don Merritt: “Humility Exemplified” which prompted that question from deep within. And I found my default answer to be “Yes, of course it does if I allow … !”
And yet Don’s post niggled. My default is at fault. My default is the pat answer. My default is “the only answer”.
And the niggling continued.
>>> It may help to explain what in Don’s post triggered the niggle. Don is talking about: The disciples. The disciples’ feet washing. And being naked (Don seems to have become fond of being naked in his post over the past year). But something niggled.
I read words that were clear: Don and MY God Soft Hands Jesus are more sincerely naked than I have even been. Don sees MY God Soft Hands Jesus naked. I never have. My GSHJ is just “love”. Don sees what that really means. Don’s post is profound. Really and deeply profound.
And I found myself looking in my mirror. And there was GSHJ alongside me. One of us was naked and it wasn’t me. I was clothed in need. The need of “it’s not fair”, of “I don’t deserve this”, of “but what about me”, of “I am living in the moment why can’t you” … I am clothed in “me”. And God Soft Hands Jesus is not. I am sweating the sweat of the constricted and GSHJ is not. I want to be free – it’s just that I like my wardrobe too much.
I can write a post like this with complete clarity. And then get so naffed off telling someone about it – irritated when they don’t get it – upset when they are distracted by a noise or someone passing by – angry inside when we are interrupted by some mundane and trivial question. I like the sterilised purity of a calm and sanctified place. Where a pin can be heard dropping (and tut-tutted at for interrupting). Where interruptions are edited out. Where questions do not happen. Not without the space and time to reflect, re-edit and re-post in that same calm and peaceful place. A holy place. A righteous place … “my place”.
And – on reflection – I do swing between completely perfect and completely rubbish in conversation and discussion face-to-face. I think we all do. So this is not me-writing-me-off stuff. But these posts and this blog have given me a robe to wear. A robe of insight and discernment. I like this robe. I admire it (when no one is looking). I pick it free of any stray fibres. Any imperfections (when no one is looking). But –
Don’s post triggered something else deep inside.
The realisation that my lovely robe is no more than the “king’s clothing”. My “robe” is as imagined as the king’s finery. And when I remove it – that feels wrong. I feel wrong. I feel uncomfortable. I feel “unclothed”. I become a little sweaty. That hot and flushed feeling of embarrassment. Of being found out. Of wearing a mask.
And something else …
An awareness that others wear their own imagined outfits that suit their own “me issues”. But also that many don’t. Many don’t wear any imagined outfits at all. They are naked with their God. And they can cope admirably with interruptions, with distractions, with all the “me” stuff I still (will always?) have. They are free. And I am not. Just like the Jesus in the verses Don Merritt dissects in his post … My Jesus!
And I now have (as always) choices. What do I do with this new knowing? I can beat myself up. Have a good old self-flagellation. Rub myself better. Forget as the “scars” heal that I ever felt like this. And repeat the cycle as certainly as day turns to night and then to day again. Or …
I can thank the GSHJ in Don and all of us. Embrace this new imagery. Extract the essence of love from all these pictures and intuition and knowledge. And make it my own. Make it something that GSHJ and I take and unpick. One “me” issue at a time.
Does unconditional love thrive in any situation?
Yes. If “I” allow. If “I” stop counting if others are loving me back (enough). Yes. If I take off my imagined nakedness – my “body suit of concealment”. Yes. If I really want to see Jesus as Jesus sees Jesus: Naked. Free. Content. And very “Me issue” free.
If I “get it”.
Church is simple. But it isn’t. (my post earlier today) seems to have been GSHJ preparing the ground, tilling the soil, taking off his robes. And now Don’s post and those verses feels like my personal “washing of the feet”.
I can choose to protest – just like Simon Peter. I can tell God that I am not worthy. That I am the dirt under His sandals. I can tell Him that if He insists He must wash my feet – then I must insist on a complete body wash. That I will tell Him when I am clean. That I can see my dirt better than He can. That I know better than He does. That I will never be good enough, clean enough. I can tell God how things are – how they will be – how I see them. Or …
I can embrace the unconditional love of GSHJ. Embrace the love He has for my feet. Embrace His absence of His “Me issues”. And begin to embrace the promise of an absence of my own “me issues”.
I can make “His place” – this real world full of interruptions and distractions and questions – of me not having any answers – of seeing others robed in their own “me issues” – of me being clothed in my own issues – of others as naked as God Soft Hands Jesus …
I can begin to make that “my place” – a safe place. I can begin to share His place – our place … And then maybe I can answer that question from the heart AND head: “Does unconditional love thrive in any situation?” Yes it does!