The following was a letter written to my pre-adolescent daughter.  She had just gotten an emotional jolt in wondering if she actually loved us, her parents, and had the character and self-assurance to tell us about that feeling.  I prayed and was inspired to write this, and hope it may inspire or help others.  It is a letter written from a Christian daddy to a Christian daughter.  My intent is not to offend, but to demonstrate how we love. Herein is an implicit invitation to any and all mankind to explore how God loves, and how we, his people are told to do it.   I hope you will find things you desire and can grasp as part of your life.


My wonderful daughter,


            Please read this with your Mommy.  It has language and ideas with which you’ll need her help.  It’s long, so get a drink and settle in because I want to encourage you to do the right thing.


I have spent much time in prayer and study over your declaration to Mommy yesterday.  It grieves me that you would have feelings of dislike toward your Mommy and me, but I know those are natural feelings and they’re your feelings so they’re important. Not to make little of your feelings, but you need to know that they’ll come and go.  Kind of like your appetite for pancakes.  I am extremely proud of you for sharing those feelings.  You are truly a courageous girl and I am honored to call you my daughter. 


I will always do that, you know.  I’ll call you my daughter until they lay me down for my trip to glory.  I hope you can find productive ways to express whatever it is that caused you to feel that way.  If Mommy or I can be of any help, please let us know. 


            You may know that when I am troubled, I write. In writing down my thoughts, I can deal with them.  They are no longer just nasty notions nicking past my conscious, wakeful mind; but ideas on a page I can dig into deeper and deeper.  I’d like to encourage you to try this, or find another way to express and work through life’s questions and quandaries.  Sometimes I actually find meaning and I always find comfort in writing. It gives me a chance to be critical of my thoughts, and apply the Standard of the Bible to them. 


            This evening, I hope my writing will help you. I want to encourage you to feel free to express yourself and let your parents know how you’re feeling.  If it is something good, we want to celebrate with you.  If it is something you’re not sure about, we want to help you learn how to figure it out. If it is something bad, we want to help you with it.  We not only enjoy this, it is one of the things God asks us to do as parents. Don’t ever feel like its something we aren’t ready or wanting to deal with.  When it is beyond us (please don’t feel like you need to test this boundary on our behalf…), God is there for us to help us be strong for you.


So, what about you not feeling like you love Mommy and me? 


Let us use care with the word Love.


The world tries to tell us about love, but their view is not clear.  They not only can’t see the reflection in the mirror; most can’t even see the mirror.  They’ve merely heard rumors of a shiny flat thing called a mirror.  Their best attempts at defining love are pathetic glimmers of God’s intent, like a blind man encountering and trying to describe an elephant.  Depending on where he touched it, it would seem like a tree (leg), a snake (trunk), or a leaf (ear).  We Christians must be aware of the confusion with which the evil one attempts to ensnare us. Think about some common mis-definitions of love.  Love is defined in society’s best modern dictionaries as a noun meaning affection (I love chocolate pie.), desire (I’d love to spend time with you.), or physical intimacy (Let’s make love.)  Too many parts of the common definitions are adult language to bear repeating here.


The world aspires to love (Do something you love!).  Sociologists have demonstrated that people require love. You probably don’t have to imagine what happens when love is counterfeited and a replacement is substituted for love in a person’s life.  I’ve felt it, and would imagine that most every human being past the age of reason has experienced some demented “counterfeit love”, that is not truly love. Too often we (I) am the perpetrator of this counterfeiting…


Loving altruistically is not in human nature.  It is a spiritual expression acted out in the here and now “real” world.  (It is important to know that the important part of life is the eternal, spiritual side. This world and all that is of it is doomed.  We are but a vapor; and the world is like a blade of grass, here for a season then burned to ash.  Loving someone with a true spiritual love from God is one of the only things that will last.)  Anthropologists have documented a spiritual nature in every significant human settlement ever discovered.  We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and that means we are wired to love. In an attempt to love, the world re-defines the term to somehow become closer to it through whatever makes them happiest.  They want the feelings that come from loving, but rather than do the loving, they go straight for the feelings and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.


It is instructive that society’s dictionary definitions focus on the physical, humanistic nature of this expression.  The world uses the word love to express warm fuzzy feelings and sexual activity.  Wouldn’t it be convenient for Satan if God could be defined in this way?  When (not “if”) the physical or humanistic things called love change; people are hurt, families are broken, society’s moral fiber is broken down.  People become disillusioned with God because they associate Him with love, and love (as defined by common society) is unreliable.  It is our duty in the fight between good and evil to uphold love for what it truly is.  (Ephesians 6:12)


Not that a girl means any harm when she says she loves her kitty, or a married couple making love is displeasing to God.  Much the opposite, He is happy with the activities in both cases.  We are to enjoy and have dominion over the animals. (Genesis 1:26)   He gave husbands and wives the gift of intimacy. (Proverbs 5:18-19 etc.)  What is wrong is the semantics – the words with which we express our feelings or sexuality should be tactfully explicit, not a maltreatment of a name of God.


1 John 4:16 says; “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”  Shall we join this with the commandment God gave Moses for us, His people, in Exodus 20:7? "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  Enjoy your ice cream.  Love God. Have fun with your spouse.  Love one another as you love yourself.  Don’t fall in love.  Decide to love – and do it.


Love, Biblically speaking, is a committed selfless expression (a verb) of caring and providing for the welfare of another.  (Corinthians 13) Let’s apply logic.  God is love.  God, as we learn from scripture, is a constant, never changing being.  (Hebrews 13:8)  While He experiences emotion - delights in His creation (Psalm 18:19); expresses humor in myriad ways (not the least of which is this writer's vain attempt at expressing His will); was repentant of having created mankind, hence the flood of Noah (Genesis 6:6); Jesus wept when his followers didn't see his ability and desire to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead (John 11:35); He was angry at the money changers in the temple (John 2:15) demonstrating that emotions change.


God (love embodied) is constant and never changing.  His emotions change even as ours do, but he is always present, always faithful, always caring, always powerful, always graceful, always merciful, always in control, etc...  Humans are created emotional beings, experiencing infatuation, attraction, and desire, (along with dissatisfaction, disillusionment, and even despair) in relationships; but these are emotions, not love.   It is not just OK, but essential to the human experience that we emote.  We learn to relate our emotions to one another truthfully only through proper study and training.  It is an act of self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22&23).


You don’t stop loving.  If you don’t love someone “any more,” you never did.  If you fell out of love, you were never in it; you may have been infatuated or lustful.  You may have had a desire for them, you may have needed them, you may have come to rely on them and you may be over that; but if you ever truly loved them you still do. You may feel sorry you’re involved with someone.  You may be angry with a situation, a group, or a person – even yourself.  You may feel lonely or bereft waiting for someone to respond or do their part.  You may feel like you never want to see someone ever again.  You may even feel like life would be better if you were independent of someone.  These feelings are natural and even healthy, but they are not love.  You cannot shut off love any more than you could throw a switch and turn off the sun.


“How do I know if I am in love?”  Easy.  You decide to do it.  Then you realize it is beyond you, a mere mortal, to love any other human being altruistically.  Inevitably, you look for what you can get out of a relationship.  You tire of an idiosyncrasy, or the boring lack thereof. Then, when you get quiet and still and truly listen to your heart, and you realize you want to do this love thing better.  So, after all the self-help books and visits to Sally’s Advanced Togetherness Achieving Nirvana (SATAN) Workshops for Couples, you determine you aren’t worthy of anyone as wonderful as your chosen lover, sabotage your relationship and go off the deep end, drowning your sorrows in endless binges of lemon-flavored iced tea and cheap store-brand cookies and cream ice cream.


Finally, in a lucid moment between goopy scoops, you realize how your belly droops, and you submit yourself to the only source known to mankind strong enough to help you through it.  You devote your life to Jesus, wholeheartedly throwing everything you’ve ever done or worked for to the wind, move to some dark jungle off the end of the known world, and love everyone in the world perfectly.  OK, that may not be so easy.


While it is true that you will never know God’s strength, interest, and ability to care for you until you submit yourself to Him as Lord and place Him on the throne of your life, He rarely calls new converts to the dark jungle for a mission field.  You get at least twenty days…  Truthfully, He met me where I was and showed me what I was ready to see of His glory. It wasn’t much, but I was sure impressed.  When I was ready, He showed me there were significant missionary activities right in my own work place and sphere of influence to which He’d called me and uniquely gifted me.  Every day I have to lay down my pride, meet with God in prayer, and ask meekly for enough strength to love (Great book… “Strength to Love”, a selection of sermons by one of the world’s great authorities on love, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) those whom I’ve been called to husband, father, or fellowship with.


It’s a messy thing, loving people.  I should know.  I’m one of them – people, I mean.  I do stuff that is un-lovely on a regular basis.  I do stuff to spite those who love me because they are loving me, just to see if they really do.  I get into unpopular situations, and loving me means they go through it with me or associate with me even though I may be a pariah; even if it drops the value of their own stock.  Ask the people who love me and they’ll tell you it is true.  Only in God can anyone find the strength to love me.


It is a tall order, and one for which we humans are not innately equipped. We were designed and created for it, but somewhere on the way out of Eden we lost that nature, even as we lost our connection with the Creator.


What is this crazy little thing called love?


“1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13


Unique in human experience, only Jesus could demonstrate pure, unadulterated love.  The rest of us can only aspire and practice toward the perfect love He demonstrates. His love is our hope.  He, who knew no sin, relinquished His divine place in heaven to live among us in the squalor we'd made of this world, died for us in mercy in spite of His desire not to have to drink that cup - in spite of us mocking, torturing, and killing Him (it was not nails, but love, that held Him on that cross), shedding the blood required for our sin, and rose again demonstrating His authority over even death to redeem us as brothers and sisters - co-heirs of the throne of grace, so that we could be free of our sin and the death it brings and know Him and celebrate His victory over evil and be with Him and live for eternity experiencing joy, peace, and perfect love. But I run on, and on...  God is love.

So, with that said, let me take issue with your statement that you don’t love Mommy and me.  I believe you may be dissatisfied, hurt, feel left out or lonely, or some other unpleasant issue in our relationship.  I believe that is a real and important feeling, and we should investigate to find out what is behind it.  Did it have anything to do with your brother getting a new bicycle and yours is a couple of years old?  Did it have to do with our expecting you to care for the younger kids, do your schoolwork, and help Mommy with the house?  We won’t know unless we talk in specific terms about what it is you are feeling.  Can we do that? 

I also believe that in short order you will feel much more pleasant toward Mommy and me.  You will find that whatever is aggravating today may seem tolerable even enjoyable tomorrow or next week, or at least you’ll find ways to get through things that remain distasteful.  Sometimes it takes working through this or other problems together, sometimes it just takes spending some time in prayer. 

We are a family, and that will not change.  Mommy’s and my love for you will not change.  The ways we choose to express our love may change, but it is not our love.  It is God’s love that He put on our hearts to share with you.  It is our first mission as parents to share God in our love with you. Some days that may be snuggly and warm or frisky and tickly.  Other days it may be encouragement to reach farther, jump higher, or dig deeper into whatever it is you are doing.  Yet other days, it may be booting you in the fanny, correcting your direction, or stopping you altogether from doing something that may hurt you. 

All of these are expressions of love, demonstrated by God for us in the Bible. We are going to keep doing them regardless of how much you want to hear or feel each or any of these things.  We want to be your best friends, but more than that we want to show you the love of God.  We are pretty poor communicators, so please bear with us while we learn.  If you ever figure out how to do that well, please tell us.  We are supposed to not just tell you, but show you how much God loves you.  You don’t have to love us back – though we hope you do.  God didn’t require that we love Him first.  “We love because he first loved us.” 1John 4:19 

I hope this helps you sort out your feelings, and how they differ from love. Please let us know if there is anything we can help you with.  Mostly, I hope it helps you know you are loved – always. 


I love you