Updated: Jul 14, 2020
This article was written by Amy Hutchisson. Thank you, Amy, for being part of Intersekt's ministry.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong
Anna Bartlett Warner
I sat on the rug in the church basement with all the other preschoolers, singing our little hearts out for Jesus. I don’t remember ever learning the words to the song. I always just sang, because Jesus loved me.
And yet, to paraphrase a question I didn’t learn until several years later in my Sunday School career, what was truth? What did these words I knew by heart even mean?
“Jesus.” I had that one. Jesus was the one who died on the cross, was wrapped up and set in a tomb, then miraculously walked right out again.
And “me.” That seemed pretty simple. I was the one sitting there on the rug, brushing the animal-cracker crumbs from my dress.
That left “love.” What was love? I thought I knew love. I used the term for everything from ice cream to television to God. But, could I put my chubby little finger on just what love meant? I had no idea.
Three decades beyond my years on the Sunday School rug, I was still struggling with the concept of love. Based on my own experience watching and listening and learning from the way people talked and behaved in this love business, I thought I’d come up with a pretty workable definition.
Love appeared to be a matter of usefulness, a relational transaction. If I did something for you, if I made your life a little easier, a little better, you could repay my effort with love. Love, I’d found, meant I needed to sacrifice. Because I loved you, I had to put you first, to deny myself, to ignore my own needs, and try to make your life as pleasant as I was able.
Love, as I understood it, meant I was there to give, to serve, to honor and obey, but never to demand, to need, to deserve, or have worth.
My childhood notion of love, unsurprisingly, caused a lot of resentment over the years. As well it should. The process I’d worked out to be “love” wasn’t love at all, but some sort of indentured servitude designed to swap my autonomy for an ineffective weapon against the shame of never believing I was enough. And that wasn’t love at all.
I was 35 years old before I began to suspect something was truly amiss in my understanding of love. I was married and had two children, but I still couldn’t quite identify what exactly love was. Not that it kept me up nights worrying, but periodically, in passing, I’d remember that I couldn’t pinpoint real, true love, and I’d feel bad about that. I revised my opinion of true love from an exchange of services to a rodeo metaphor. Stripped of flowery sentiment, I believed love simply meant I’d rather be mucking out the stable with you than barrel racing without you.
Even so, in my new understanding of love, I was the subject of the sentence. How did this related to Jesus loving me? And what difference did that really make?
Stumbling through another half dozen of the worst and best years of my life, I came to the end of me. Alone, in the dark, on a ledge partway down an abyss so deep I couldn’t even guess where the bottom lay, I realized I no longer held anything to give. I could find no way to make life easier or better; I had neither the ability to muck out the stable nor ride in the rodeo. I was completely spent.
From that desperate place of utter brokenness, I begged for hope. Not love, not even grace, but merely the ability to believe there might be something better. In my complete lack of anything but vulnerability, I found a glimpse of a corner of the edge of just how much Jesus absolutely adored me.
At age 41 this pastor’s daughter, who’d grown up in church nearly every day and twice on Sundays, finally started to learn by heart the real meaning of love. In love, I discovered the incredible freedom of confident assurance. I found, not only had I always been enough, but I was never, ever meant to be enough on my own. I was, and continue to be, positively astounded by the true power of authentic love.
Jesus loves me, this I really, truly know.
Amy Hutchisson is a vivid storyteller, a persistent listener, and a dreadful pun enthusiast. She complements experience with imagination, seeking the beauty wrapped in brokenness. A wordsmith by vocation, she writes to find harmony in the wild, woeful, wacky wonderment of the everyday. When not on active duty as managing director of home life or curating educational experiences for her three children, Amy enjoys relaxing with a good book, completing crochet projects, and perfecting allergy-friendly recipes.
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