Unconditional Love

Adult son and senior father walking outside

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.—JOHN 13:34 (NIV)

My father-in-law, Jack, was a man of few words. My husband, Mike, never knew where he stood with him. He never said “I love you” to Mike. It was as if Jack thought that if he talked about love, it might display weakness. Now that Alzheimer’s had claimed Jack, he rarely spoke at all, and no longer recognized Mike.

My husband stopped by the nursing home daily to see his dad. I marveled at Mike’s diligence. How could he show such concern for a man who had always held him at arm’s length? I cared for my mother during her last years, but she was kind and loving. It was easy to give back to my mom.

Finally, I asked Mike, “Why are you doing so much for your dad? You two were never close. He doesn’t even know who you are now. I don’t get it!”

My husband took his time replying. “I was taught you don’t kick a man when he’s down. Dad’s not well. He’s vulnerable. And there’s a difference between liking someone and loving them. There’s a lot I didn’t like about the man, but God said we’re supposed to love our neighbor as our self. God didn’t say ‘like.’ He said ‘love.’ Dad has his faults, but he was a good provider. I’ve stopped worrying about our relationship. He is who he is, and I’ve accepted that.”

Today's Prayer:

God, thank you for your gift of unconditional love. May we remember to model that love in all our human relationships. Amen.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts