Summary: If God loves us so much, why don’t we always live in that love?
I’ve taken several long road trips in the last year. I’ve discovered that the best way for me to maintain my alertness and my sanity is to listen to audio books. I’ve become a fan of Tom Bodett, the guy who does the Motel 6 ads, whose most famous line was “We’ll leave the light on for ya’”
Bodett is also a great storyteller, and I have several of his audio books. One of his stories revolves around Lloyd and Evelyn Decker, a couple in their early 70’s who have seen very little of the world outside their hometown of Avalon, Ohio. One day Lloyd comes home with a picture of an enormous motor home and suggests they should sell their home, buy the motor home and see the country. Evelyn shares his enthusiasm and their adventures begin.
One of their purposes in traveling is to spend time with their grown children, their son Anthony, who had set out for adventure himself, but somehow ended up pumping gas in Booder, Indiana. And their daughter Deirdre, who lives in Oregon.
As a child, Deirdre’s adoring father called her “Precious” or “Princess” and never wanted her to do things like go fishing with him or anything else that might soil her pretty dresses. As an adult, Deirdre has devoted her life to becoming everything her father wouldn’t let her be. She works hard as a laborer, excelling at physical jobs rarely held by women. She gets pretty dirty and pretty sweaty pretty much every day. Her male co-workers respect her because despite her slight build, she can outwork most, if not all, of them.
But there is a price to be paid for living your life just to spite your parents, and Deirdre Decker has paid it. She is an angry woman who is close to no one. She lives alone, and her life is a monument to her own strength and independence. When her parents come to visit, they come out to her work site. Deirdre takes some pleasure in having her parents, especially her father, see her working in the heat and the dirt, knowing that he must hate to see the life his “Princess” has chosen.
She becomes incensed when her mother makes lunch for everyone at the job site. She doesn’t want to be mothered and she doesn’t want to see Evelyn mother anybody else, either. She expects that her co-workers won’t want her nicely sliced white-bread sandwiches and lemonade and cookies any more than she does, but of course, they don’t have this problem with her mother, and they come back for seconds and thirds.
Finally, Lloyd and Evelyn get the none-too-subtle hint that Deirdre doesn’t want them around. As they drive away, Evelyn asks, “What just happened back there?” And Lloyd replies, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened”
What Lloyd & Evelyn both know is that more than “nothing” has happened. What has happened is that they have tried to show their love to their daughter in the only ways they know how and she has tossed it back in their face. Their gentle, if often clueless, love has been met with a torrent of anger, pride and hate.
Their goal was to reconnect with their child. But what happened was nothing except to increase the distance.
As I listened to this story unfold, I found myself filled with a mix of emotions. I was angry at Deirdre, angry that she would act so spitefully and hatefully to her parents, who genuinely cared about her, who hadn’t done anything to hurt her, although they had never really taken the time to listen to her and understand her. Couldn’t she have just seen into their hearts a little bit and receive it?
But, though I hate to admit it, that there were times when I had a similar attitude toward my parents. I was never as vocal about it, I hope I was never as cruel, but some of the core thoughts and attitudes have been in my heart, too. It took me way too long to “get” that my parents really did love me.
How painful it is to pour out your love to someone and be repaid with hated, anger, rejection. Last week [in "Four Dimensional Love"] I said the love of God is: broad enough to include every person who has ever lived, it is so long-lasting that it will never let us go; its quality is so high, it will never let us down; and it is so deep, it can meet the deepest needs of our being.
So why is it that so many people reject God’s love like Deirdre rejected her parents’ love?
And why is it that even those of us who call ourselves His sons and daughters often find that when we think of God, our first thought is not, “Oh, how He loves me!”