In some ways, junior high and high school students can be an exaggerated reflection of my own inner workings. There is a lack of subtlety in them that makes everything more clear. Their waxing and waning confidence, their honest need for acceptance and appreciation, it’s all still a part of me, too. I find myself wanting to shout at them about the love of God for them, but then, almost immediately, I realize that I need to shout it at myself, too.
So often, we find ourselves making decisions trying to show others, or even ourselves, that we are worthy of their love, respect, and acceptance. It’s a natural desire, but a foolish and misguided one. We don’t need to prove it, love is the starting point of everything we are. The fact is, we’ve been loved into existence by God, who is all good, all knowing, all powerful, and all perfect. This love as a starting point is one of the most important things for us to recognize because it changes everything.
We are loved first. Before we have an opportunity to act, to think, or to choose, already we are loved by God. This isn’t some business exchange. We don’t do some grand, impressive thing to be repaid with love, instead everything we do is a response to that love which started it all. We aren’t motivated, then, by a fear of losing that love, or a need to earn it, instead we are motivated by our gratitude for it. How freeing is that? To know that goodness itself has a perfect love for you that can never be lost. If we truly believe that, we are free to respond with all that we are, and then to share it with others. What greater source of confidence and security could there be than then unconditional love of the Almighty God for us, proven by Christ crucified? As St. Paul makes clear, Jesus didn’t die for us because of our perfection. Instead, while we were still sinners, He died for love of us.