I can think of three universally recognizable examples of unconditional love: God and man, parent and child, and dog and owner. But what about whom you marry? Is that unconditional love?
Isn’t that sort of the whole concept of marrying someone? To choose to unconditionally love a person you wouldn’t otherwise love to the point of “no matter what?” To me, that’s the most romantic thing a person can do. Even stripped of emotion and sentimentality, marriage is/should be mutual unconditional love at its finest.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons that marriage isn’t as easy as a lot of people may assume going into it. Instead, marriage is an ongoing process of mutual maturity. Marriage causes people to see how hard it can be to live with even themselves, from the perspective of someone who happens to love them unconditionally.
To love someone unconditionally means there is nothing that that person can do to cause them to fall out of ultimate favor with you. Sure, some days it’s easier than others, but that falls under the whole “for better or for worse” part of the wedding vows.
Actually, for a human being (outside of the parent/child relationship) to love another unconditionally is one of the biggest paradoxes I can think of. But it helps to put things in perspective by turning the tables: I, myself, want to be unconditionally loved.
I want to know there is a person who doesn’t judge me when I’m not in the room, but at the same time is brave enough to tell me directly and privately how I can improve as a person, in both big and small ways. I want to know there is a person who understands me, or at least puts up with me, when I’m being weird or simply not myself.
So maybe choosing to love another person is challenging, but for me, the bigger challenge was finding someone who would love me unconditionally. Thank God, that’s exactly who I found.
If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.
So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…
That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.
In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.
What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.
Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.
Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.
Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.
The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.
It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.
The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.
Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.
Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.
Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:
“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:
‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.
Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.
This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”
Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.
In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”
Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:
“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go. Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on. For as long as I live
there will always be a place you belong.”
But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely. Not just him. But I won’t ever be lonely.
I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely.
(I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.)
So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”. Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways. Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.
Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time. But I can easily remember it. It can be painful; literally. Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain. I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.
Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely. I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to. And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require. At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.
Jack’s due date is November 11th, so it’s pretty likely that within the next thirty days, he will be born. I am past the stage of being nervous, afraid, or underprepared (because I’ve accepted the fact that no first time parent can truly be prepared enough). Instead, I am completely excited and feeling very positive about it all. A few nights ago I had a dream that Jack was a few months old and I was holding him, feeling his face against mine, and even though it was a dream, it was a feeling that I have never experienced before. But it’s a feeling that I know I will be experiencing soon in real life.
This late into the pregnancy, it feels more like our baby is actually born and less that my wife is still pregnant. We’re so close to meeting him. I’m already feeling a hint of this great desire to do anything I have to in order to make sure he’s taken care of. Like an innocent puppy that winds up on my doorstep with sad eyes that say, “Please take care of me…” Except he’s a human being and I had a part in bringing him into this world.
I look forward to caring for him with my life. I don’t care about having to change diapers, losing sleep, and just flat-out transforming the normalcy of my life to be a dad. I want this little boy. And for the record, he’s got some cool shoes waiting for him out here in the real world.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: