So, recently, I’ve been leafing through another book, “I Believe in Love.” Now, wait a minute before you judge it. If I didn’t have it sitting right in front of me or hadn’t started reading it, I imagine that I would assume it was some sort of cheesy self-help book and write it off. That, though, is the cynic in me and I don’t want to be a cynic. Even if it weren’t an awesome spiritual book based on the teachings of St. Thérèse (which it is!), what’s so wrong about a book on love? God is love. Pope Benedict XVI devoted his first encyclical as the Pope to love—why should believing in love be lame? Virgil said, “Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to Love.” Okay, winning you all over on love: check (that was easy!). Next: let’s talk about God’s love being an outpouring of mercy.
Every Monday, we proclaim in Night Prayer, “O Lord, our God, unwearied is your love for us.” This has struck me in the past—unwearied, that means he never gets tired of loving me (really?). The Psalmist proclaims, “O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call.” Even though we hear and supposedly know how great God’s love (mercy) is, I think I oftentimes doubt it. Sometimes in the past, even after going to confession, I would be unable to forgive myself for a sin I had committed. God had wiped the slate clean, and said, “Okay, let’s start over, here’s some grace to get you started,” and I was the one who clung to my sin. In my last blog, I shared my realization of the fact that just because something doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t make it untrue. Following that logic: just because I can be unforgiving, doesn’t mean God is. Just because I can get tired of forgiving others, doesn’t mean that God does.
So often, my understanding is limited by this unconscious effort to put God in a box. Father Jean (the author of “I Believe in Love”) enlightened me though by explaining, “It is not He who grows weary of us; it is we who grow weary of looking at our ugliness” (62). That strikes me to the core even now—it’s so true. God’s not tired of me, I am. When I have fallen into the same sin, for example, that I have fallen into innumerable times, in my discouragement I think that God cannot possibly still be patient with me, that he still hasn’t lost his temper with me. I know that I’d get tired of me. I’d say, “Haven’t you learned yet? Why do you keep falling down into the same hole? Go around it!!” But God says, “Are you okay? Here, let me help you up. No, don’t just keep lying in the hole—you have to keep going.” It’s a perspective change really, and for me it’s so surprising, so refreshing. What I knew in my head has now sunken into my heart—the beauty of God’s inexhaustible mercy—his love. He forgives when I can’t, he forgets my sins when I can’t, and his love for me is unchanging. UNCHANGING! God is just waiting for you to turn back to him with your whole heart so that he can flood you with his mercy. So, go ‘on now—get you some!