To be loved – even though – is to be truly loved.
Our two dogs are thoroughly enjoying lockdown; they get more attention than ever and that’s just fine with us because their warm, affectionate nature and relentless appetite for play are very uplifting. We’re blessed to live on a farm and we have permission to walk the length and breadth of it.
And what a great place it is to walk; there are numerous copses and acres of fields but perhaps the most appealing place for the dogs is the small river that borders the farm. They absolutely love it. And of course, where there’s water, there’s mud and it seems their primary mission is to bring home as much of it as possible.
I wouldn’t mind this except that while ‘Big Black’ loves getting dirty, he hates being cleaned! Conversely, ‘She Wolf’ absolutely loves the hose and we’ve lost a number of them to her sharp teeth. (She also once completely destroyed a sprinkler… but that’s another story.) Because she sees this as a game, mud and water are liberally spread around far and wide. In fact, cleaning her frequently involves cleaning the garden room windows as well!
In momentary frustration at this frequent challenge, my good man has been known to mutter to them, ‘I love you… even though!’
The first time he said it, we both laughed because there’s such a lot of truth in this; not just for our dogs but for each other and, indeed, for all those we love.
This phrase is passing into our vocabulary as an affectionate and loving term because the reality is that we’re both flawed. We make mistakes, we forget to be kind or patient, we sometimes take each other for granted. In fact, this is true for all our family, friends, neighbours, colleagues; everyone we meet and deal with on a regular basis. We’re all deficient; no-one gets it right all the time and from this imperfect basis we try to build and maintain loving, healthy, lasting relationships.
I’m so grateful that my good man loves me… even though.
The same goes for all those I love… even though.
And for those who love me… even though.
It demonstrates patience, kindness and forgiveness.
Who would ever want to live without that?
While it’s easy to see and identify the faults and failings of others, we’re rarely quite so open to recognise and admit our own flaws but being loved… even though… can act like a mirror for us.
‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.’ (Matthew 7:12)
‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.’ (1Peter 4:8)
In all human relationships, that’s very much a two-way street but, of course, with God it’s one-way traffic only. We have every possible reason to love Him but we, ourselves, have no redeeming characteristics whatsoever and there’s nothing at all in us that merits His love. And yet…
‘At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:6-8)
‘We love because He first loved us.’ (1 John 4:19)
Even as redeemed children of God we still sin and grieve the Spirit but, with confession and true repentance, forgiveness is ours for the asking.
‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;
according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.’ (Psalm 51:1-2)
We didn’t merit salvation in the first place and neither do we merit God’s ongoing love, patience and forgiveness. To be loved – in spite of our sin, even though we don’t deserve it – is to be truly loved.
May we respond to God’s great love with repentance, gratitude, service and praise and may we reflect His love to others… even though.