Happily Even After
The Capacity of God’s Love
by Stacey Noem
At daily mass on Saturday the gospel was the feeding of the four thousand. We all know the story: how there were only some loaves and a few fish to start, but the scraps left over filled several baskets. The priest shared a really lovely insight about how this reality points to the fact that the capacity of God’s grace to work in our lives far outweighs our capacity to even imagine it.
Hearing that as I sat in the pew, I recalled a conversation I had with some students recently. We were discussing how sometimes when we unravel some little mystery about ourselves or the way we form relationships with others, we may also begin to understand a little more fully the nature of God and the way that God seeks relationship with us.
Being the dear, sweet and somewhat snarky students they are, they asked me to “give a concrete example” — something I ask them to do all the time. Turnabout is of course fair play, but it took me a few minutes to come up with an example.
Then I remembered how I learned lessons about the capacity of God’s love.
Before I was a parent, I, of course, could not begin to grasp the extreme level and depth of love and utter devotion a parent has for their child. I do not think I am alone in this. But it really was a staggering thing–at least for me–to fully grasp just how absolutely, desperately, and even fiercely I cared for Oscar.
Spiritually it did not take long at all for me to recognize the connection between the nature of my love for my son and that of God for us. And that was an awesome thing.
As an only child, I could not conceive of how, loving one child so completely, I could possibly divide and share that love with another child. So much so, that when we learned we were going to have Simon, I wondered how in the world I could possibly love another child as much as I loved Oscar. Additionally, I struggled with what another child would do to my love for Oscar.
But once we had Simon, I understood.
My love is not divided. I wholly and completely love Oscar with every fiber of my being. And I wholly and completely love Simon with every bit of who I am. And, now, I wholly and completely love Lucy with every ounce of my life.
So it is with God.
God loves me completely and utterly and desperately. And, God loves Joshua with the same fullness and completeness. And our neighbors across the yard, and our friends in Germany, and people living in New Zealand, and you. And nothing is lost and nothing is dissipated about God’s love. We all get the fullness of God’s love. I suppose in a way, it is like we are all only children to God.
When I think of my love for my children, I get a burning in my chest and belly. Loving them is visceral, it is part of who I am.
It is staggering and flattering and humbling to imagine that is how God feels about sinful, human me. But God’s capacity to love is beyond my capacity to imagine it.
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