Monday, January 23, 2017

Why do you love me?



Why do you love me?

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Last night, I woke every hour on the hour. As I scroll through Facebook until the monotony lulls me back to sleep, I remind myself I have drawn a blank in this week’s column.

I roll over in bed and pray, “Dear God, what should I write about?”

In the morning, I take Henry and Max, my two Newfoundland dogs, for their morning walk.

Again, I ask, “Dear God, what should I write about?”

And within my heart, I hear a whisper, “Why do you love me?”

Immediately I want to brush the question aside. Surely there is something broader, less intimate than writing about that.

From the moment I attend my first Sunday school class as a child, I learn Jesus loves me, proof in the words of the familiar song:  

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak, but he is strong
Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so

And so I accept that Jesus loves me. And I agree without a second thought, that I love Jesus, too.

But how often do I ask myself why I love Jesus?

I find it uncomfortable. Not in a religious obligation way, nor because I learned to, but in a personal way.

Why do you, Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson, love me?

Dear Jesus,

Is it because when you feed five thousand, you teach me that service and kindness multiply as we give them away?

Maybe I love you, Jesus because you give me a message of love when I feel poor, sick, and discarded.

You never ridicule my suffering or shortcomings. You hold my face in your hands, look me in the eye, and tell me I can begin again.

Maybe it is because you are the giver of second chances.

At the Last Supper, you predict Peter will deny you three times. Peter, your most loyal disciple, replies this is impossible.  Still, Peter does deny you three times before dawn.

After your resurrection, you not only forgive Peter, you redeem him.

Then, Jesus, you ask Peter three times if he loves you still, and after each question, Peter replies, ‘you know I love you.’ And then Jesus, you command him, ‘go and feed my sheep,’ taking Peter’s brokenness and using it to build your church.

I love you, Jesus, because you sacrifice your life for my sins even though you know I will deny you and turn away.

I am Peter. Redeemed when my love for you falls short. 

I love you, Jesus, because you love me when I cannot love myself.

You run toward me on a dusty road, with arms wide open when I return as the prodigal daughter covered in filth and the weight of unspeakable things I have done to be loved.

Jesus, you cover me with magnificent tapestry robes and hold a feast as if I return with honor when in fact I come back with nothing more than failure and shame.

I love you, Jesus, because your infinite patience never shows me how far I must go, only how far I have come. Daily, you encourage me to become the woman you created me to be. 

Because when I don’t know myself, Jesus, you promise me that you knew me and loved me, ‘before I was knit together in my mother’s womb.’

Because when I only see my ugliness, you tell me I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’

I love you, Jesus, because when I say, 'I cannot', you only ask that I say, 'yes'. And then you show me that “nothing is impossible with God.”

I love you, Jesus, because you became human so you could tell me you remember how it feels when tears burn my exhausted eyes or become the overflow of my joy in you. 

When I consider how little I comprehend, I love you, Jesus, because I will gladly spend the rest of my life sitting at your feet, knowing that if I study forever, I will only scratch the surface of your depthless mystery.

I love you, Jesus, because I will never understand how much you loved me, first.

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Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is the author of “A Map of Heaven” and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths


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