I Loved You First

For years, my nighttime ritual with my daughter included (and still sometiems includes) variations of a back and forth exchange along the lines of “I love you…I love you more…I love you most…I love you most-est” or “I love you to the edge of the universe…..I love you to the edge of the universe and back again…. I love you to the edge of the universe and back again times infinity….I love you to the edge of the universe and back again times infinity times [fill in the blank].”  Since she is more imaginative than I am, she always ended up with the last line. 

One night recently I thought, gotcha, and said, “I loved you first.”  I was surprised by her response, which was,  “That doesn’t count.”  She acknowledged that I was aware of her existence before she was aware of mine and therefore that, in fact, I loved her before she loved me, but she didn’t see that as having any meaning to the exchange over how much we loved each other. Part of my surprise, I think, is that I knew where my line came from….and the statement which mine mirrored is one that has significance.

God loved us first.  Whatever one thinks of my daughter’s reaction to my statement in our goodnight ritual, it matters loads that God loved us first.

People often think they have to do something to earn God’s love.  As though God’s love is a reward for our good deeds.  Of course, if we mistakenly think we have to do something to earn God’s love, we also mistakenly think we can lose that love if we don’t keep up the good work.

God loved us first.  Before we came into existence.  Before we did anything that could earn anything.  Unconditionally and everlastingly.  God loved us first.

 [Update: I just read Beth’s post on Journey for today. She mentions people that see disasters such as the cyclone that hit Myanmar as God’s punishing people for being bad. I think the people who say such things just don’t get the thrust of God loved us first. So, while I pray for those who have died or are suffering in Myanmar, I also pray for the deepening of the appreciation of all of us that God loves us all…unconditionally and everlastingly.]