One of the many things I took for granted growing up was my parents’ unconditional love for me. No matter my behavior, no matter my actions, no matter how much I may have embarrassed them, or broke their hearts (and as a teenager, it was aplenty), they loved me. They were able to separate me, as their child, from my bad behavior. I never felt unloved for one minute of my life. Ever! Even during the spankings they occasionally rendered, I never felt unloved.
It wasn’t until years later, when I was older, and a mother, and could look back on things with a bit of wisdom, that I understood how deep and how unconditional their love for me really was, and what a gift they had given me. Not every child is so fortunate.
Children and teenagers need unconditional love. They need to know they can make mistakes and mess up and embarrass us, and even break our hearts, and it will be OK. We won’t stop loving them. We may not love or condone their behavior, and we may even have to ask them to leave our home, should the behavior become so obnoxious, but we will always love them.
I remember one time when my daughter was about three, I said to her, "There's nothing in the world you could ever do to make me stop loving you. Always remember that, sweetie." She got this puzzled look on her face. "Even if I killed you?" she asked incredulously, hands on hips. (Drama Queen, her middle name.) "Even if you killed me," I said. "I'd take my last breath loving my baby girl." It was funny at the time, but it's so very true.
My parents' unconditional love for me taught me to love unconditionally. And that's how God loves all of us. We may behave badly and break His heart, but He loves us no less. We're His kids! He may not love how we behave, but He will always love us! What comfort that brings.
Whether you're young or all grown up, if you have parents who love you unconditionally, consider yourself blessed.... and then return the favor to your children. It's a priceless gift.
This post is part of Emily's "Tuesdays Unwrapped" weekly series.