You see, I love her.
But Janna doesn’t always love me back in the way I would like. She is definitely a mamma’s girl (unless she is scared or really tired). We have great play time together, but she freely offers baby hugs and baby kisses to her mom, while often shunning me with the same.
I’ll admit that though I may be big and rough on the exterior, this sometimes hurts me deeply. Being rejected in any form by one that I love so deeply causes more pain than any of the injuries I have incurred throughout my life (and there have been many).
But every now and then the rejection is replaced by genuine loving embrace. Sometimes Janna will pat my back with her little hands, or come over to give me a hug, or give me a sloppy baby kiss. No matter what she does afterward, or what she did before, in that moment I experience real joy. The joy of a father.
I expect our Heavenly Father is no different. Sometimes – many times – I reject his love. I run away from his embrace and follow after my own desires. Rarely does it cross my mind how much this must hurt. For if my love for my daughter is any reflection at all of God’s love for me, then the pain I have caused him in these times must be excruciating indeed.
Why then would God give us a choice in the matter? Why not just make us love him? I do not wish to debate the tenets of free will this early in the day. I don’t need to. You see, for Janna to truly love me, I have to let her decide to do so. When I force her to hug me, she cries, and only runs away faster when I put her down. It causes the opposite of the desired effect. God’s love can be no different in this respect. For there to be real, abiding love between us I must be given the choice to love him.
And sometimes I make that choice. Though I have caused him more pain than I can fathom, I know that in the times I have loved God with my whole being I have caused something quite different. For in these moments I believe I have given him a Father’s joy.