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This I Know

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