On Sunday, Fr. Martin sang “How Deep the Father’s Love” and it reminded me of how powerful this Fatherly love really is. We hear it talked about all the time “the Father’s love for us,” but do we really understand it? My experience of this definition of a Father’s love is my relationship with my earthly father. And while I can experience it on the receiving end, I don’t actually know what is on the giving end because well, I’m not a father. However, since coming to Swaziland I feel that God has given just a taste of his so-called “Father’s Love.” I haven’t tasted it as a father, but I have tasted it as a mother, though I of course have no real children of my own.
The love I have for Tenele is unlike any other sense of love I have experienced before. I love her as my own, and as my own child I would do anything for her. I love her to the point of death; I literally would give my life for her as many other parents would give their lives for their own children.
It’s an intense love that is painful because it is not necessarily reciprocated. It is an intense love that has roots beyond ourselves because the roots come from the true Father himself. It is an intense love that cannot give up. No matter how much I want to give up on Tenele, I can’t, because “fatherly love” accepts no limit; it overcomes barriers. For example if you’ve seen the movie Taken, you’ve seen one example of a father accepting absolutely no boundaries to what he would or wouldn’t do to save his teenaged daughter who had been kidnapped into sex trafficking. I absolutely love this movie because, though it is of course exaggerated, the father’s love is a powerful madness—he’s literally crazy going after his daughter, killing men and risking his life more than once to rescue her. Yes, it’s just a movie, but I also think its message about fatherly love points to a truth about Abba, our Heavenly Father.
I have struggled with pain, disappointment, heart-break, frustration, and weariness of emotion in tasting this motherly love. I have realized that no matter how much I love Tenele or how much I try to help her, I cannot control her. Love is powerful, but it is not controlling. Tenele has choices of her own, and though it’s painful I have to sit back and love her despite the pain in watching her make bad choices or her choosing not to see me or accept my help. And this is pain. To offer your resources, your love, your self, your life and not have it accepted or reciprocated is one of the worst feelings in life. But this IS love. With love comes pain; with a Father comes sacrifice. There’s no better example of this than the cross itself. At times I wished I hadn’t met Tenele so that it wouldn’t be this hard for me—I am literally a 20 minute walk away from her hellish life—but the picture the Lord has painted in my life is giving me a taste of the madness he calls LOVE. We neither deserve it nor earn it, and that is the BEAUTY of grace.
So when the going gets tough, I remember that
LOVE NEVER FAILS