I knew we were going to have issues the minute I put her in the SAMS Club cart. She wanted to walk. I wanted to shop without her running away, touching everything and breaking things. One of us was going to be disappointed, and it wasn’t going to be me.
She handled it the way two year olds know how to handle things, a lot of crying, whining and yelling. I pushed the cart and precious cargo ahead into the cool building anyways. We had a short list, and she knows that she doesn’t get what she wants when she acts this way.
Unfortunately, it began to escalate. Josie looked confused. Peter had his fingers in his ears. That’s how you know it’s bad. We hadn’t even hit the apple sauce aisle, and I knew Leanor wasn’t going to calm down. I pulled the cart over and bent over to have one of those “Come-to-Jesus” kind of conversations with her. I was handling it.
Then he said it. I know he meant it as a joke, an offhanded remark as he and his wife rolled past us. But in the heat of the moment, I didn’t even know what to say. I just smiled slightly and returned my attention to my agitated child. It wasn’t until later that I could fully process the older gentleman’s comment.
He said, “Betcha wish you’d only had two.”
I’m so glad my little girl is too young to understand what he was saying. The last thing I want her to feel from me is that her behavior has any influence on how I feel about her existence. Even on her worst days where I’m counting down the minutes until bed time, I recognize that my daughter is one of God’s sweetest gifts in my life. Just thinking about a life without Leanor makes me want to curl up and cry.
Even in an untimely joke, we can see an underlying worldview. We live in a culture where conditional love is the norm. Even in relationships where love is supposed to be forever, we reserve an escape route if the other person isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do. Marriage covenants are broken because of “unreconcilable differences.” Parents and children despise one another because of unmet expectations. Friendships are cut off without any effort to repair damage. Sin corrupts love, even the best love we can muster.
I’m so glad God’s love isn’t like that. His love does not discriminate, waver or leave. It just exists permanently, a love so constant we can’t fully understand it. His love doesn’t depend on how hard we work, how many mistakes we make, how many victories we celebrate. It depends on His own perfect holiness.
It depends on the sacrifice He made of His Son. Sometimes we expect Him to dump us when we blow it. We expect Him to get annoyed when we make a scene, like He’s a grumpy man in a grocery store. We say to God, “Betcha wish You didn’t give up your only kid for this.”
If we ever have felt this way, we only have to turn to Romans 5 to find God’s response. Paul echoes how ludicrous it is from a human perspective that Jesus would die for sinners:
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. (v. 7)
and then the best “but” in all of history:
BUT God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (v. 8)
It doesn’t matter what it is: a selfish meltdown in SAMS Club or the darkest evil deed we can fathom. He still loved us enough to sacrifice His Son. We would never want to give up our children for anything or anyone. He does what we cannot comprehend doing because of love. May it always astound us that this kind of love exists and is ours for the asking!