Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Dependence of Our Love

I don't remember what we were talking about when I responded to two of our students,

"My love is not dependent on your actions."

"So if I came to the Kennel all high and jacked up, would you still love me?" one of them asked.

"No!" said the other kid, "She would kick you out!"

I gave that kid a look. To the other one I responded,

"Well, I would be disappointed and a little sad, but I would still love you."

They thought for a second and then said with sincerity and interest, "then what is your love dependent on?" 

I think that in the moment I replied, "Jesus, I guess." Which isn't a very good explanation, but hey, I don't work well under pressure! In fact, their question kind of caught me off guard. I had to think about it for a while. What, if not what they do or say, does my love depend on? Do I love them less when they disappoint me? The answer, of course, is no. In fact, I am perhaps so disappointed because I love them so much. So what does my love depend on?

The first thought that came to my mind was simple: Jesus. And though I said it out loud I wasn't quite sure in that split second what Jesus exactly had to do with it. I just knew it was the answer.

My strategy with our students these days is simply to point them to Jesus in all situations. I want them to truly understand the significance of Jesus Christ and how it impacts their daily lives. So when they move towards hopelessness or they have bad days, I remind them that Jesus died to give them life and life to the fullest. I remind them of His great love for them, His ultimate sacrifice, and the transformation that could occur in their lives if they truly believed it all.

But what does that mean for how I love them? 

As I pondered this question I was reminded of this Biblical gem:
"We love because He first loved us." 

Oof. I love it. So simple yet it explains so much.

I love these students with an unwavering love (even though they often annoy me) because that is what has been shown to me. My heart is full with the love Christ has poured out into me, and HIS love, not my own then flows into these kids. Loving them is always to me a picture of Christ, not in any way because I love them like Jesus does. . . Jesus has more patience than me! But because I am constantly reminded of the grace and goodness Jesus has for me in my constant mistakes and failures. When I get frustrated with the students I love so much I am reminded that no matter how much I frustrate my Savior He never leaves my side. He never gives up on me. And that is the love that I want to show them. That is the love I strive to show them.

I love them because He first loved me. 

And so my love for them becomes dependent on God's love for me, which is awesome because HIS love never fails and never changes (unlike my much imperfect love). HIS love overflows through my being and into the lives of these kids, and in the end it is CHRIST who is glorified. And that is what Jesus has to do with it (I knew it was the right answer :).

Praise God for loving us and giving us the chance to show His love to others. All good things are from Him and I am SO grateful for His love and for the chance to love these kiddos.

Best job I've ever had.

Merry Christmas!

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