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Earley: Human love is imperfect

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By Al Earley

We learn about love in the family first, and that is not always a good thing. I found these notes from an anonymous mother in Austin, Texas. No information is given what kind of loving response she gave her children as they were experimenting their way through life. She simply lists these as, “Things I’ve learned from my children.”

1) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. feet house four inches deep. 2) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room. 3) When you hear the toilet flush and the words “uh oh,” it’s already too late. 4) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water. 5) Pool filters do not like Jell-O. 6) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving. 7) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy. 8) It will, however, make cats dizzy. 9) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

If the first place we learn about love is the family, it is a small miracle any of us have a clue what love is. For example, one man tells of a family that was calm, courteous, and kind, but showed very little affection, rarely hugged, and he couldn’t remember a time when either parent told him they loved him. When he married into a “huggy-feely” family that openly showed love he struggled with it. Human love is so imperfect.

A woman grows up in a home where she is sexually abused and that is the only time she gets any attention. Otherwise, she is ignored in the home where drugs and alcohol are always present. Human love is so imperfect.

A woman grows up in a seemingly perfect world, loving parents, great relationship with her siblings, surrounded all her life by a loving church that teaches her all about God’s never ending love. She understands until she gets married. Then her world comes crashing down as they sink into financial debt that leads to drinking, that leads to abuse, that leads to abandonment, with three hungry children to care for, and no money. Human love is so imperfect

Is the church the answer? I wish I could say that it was. At its best the church provides more unconditional love than any other organization in the world. At its best the church can pray and love people to healing. At its best the love of a church family can help people build new lives. But too many people also have a church story of pain where people were not very loving. Since human love is so imperfect, and God has decided to allow humans to join His church, then we need to also learn to forgive while we are looking for love.

I have learned to cherish every moment when people in the church have shown me unconditional love. But I don’t expect it because I know humans share imperfect love.

However, God’s love is perfect. God’s love redeems, that is, it fixes things, when our love is imperfect. God loves each of us with perfect love, and God’s love can change everything.

In I John 4:19 we read, “We love because he first loved us.” The greatest examples of love we see in the world are almost always inspired by God’s love. What this is saying is that the world would not know how to love unless God first loved us. When I think about how hard it is to love one another as I illustrated above I have no doubt this is true.

When has your love been at its best? When has it been at its worst?

Were you able to show forgiveness or are you harboring a grudge or hate?

How does your faith in God redeem your love for others? Have you ever prayed for God to show you how to be more loving?

Have you ever listened when God has directed you to ask for forgiveness? Why does God love us since our love is so imperfect? Next week I will look at the answer to that question.

Al Earley is pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see www.lagrangepres.com.