There’s a song I love—Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Every time, I hear it, I am reminded how God never forces His love on me. But perhaps the Parable of the Prodigal Son explains God’s Love best. The Father wants us to come home, but He waits for us, yearning. He doesn’t send out a search party. God knows forced love is really no love at all. Forced love draws out our resentment, perhaps even hatred, for we know we are being manipulated into caring for someone. True love allows us to choose. The Father waits until we decide to seek Him. When we take just one step toward Him, He sees us from afar and meets us in a run. He is overjoyed we have decided to embrace Him.
He embraces us with appropriate love. Nothing is ever mentioned about the amount of time we took in deciding to bestow our love. He is happy simply with our presence. He doesn’t keep the love a secret. Instead, He lets everyone know we are in His presence and prepares a feast to share His commitment to us.
As a sexual abuse survivor, I am deeply moved with knowing God loves me without manipulating me. I grew up knowing “love” as a way for others to get their needs met—sexual and emotional--without regard for my own needs. Even now in my healthy relationships, my husband and my children and my friends—they all expect something of me as I do them. But God loves me without any regard for His own needs. After all, He has all He needs. As my spiritual director once told me, if I never said another prayer in my life, God would still love me and bless me, for He loves me unconditionally, expecting nothing in return. He loved me first with a love that doesn’t need to be requited. To think that God loves me whether I love him or not just melts my heart. God has only my best interests in mind, which means never forcing my soul to do anything. No one, absolutely no one on earth loves me in this way, nor am I capable of loving anyone in this way. I cannot help but love such a God.