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Monday, March 1, 2010

Spirituality: Gerald May “Grace: Qualities of Mercy” Addiction and Grace Part 5 of 8

God’s love is more constant than human love can be. Human loving has its pure moments, and parental love especially can express a likeness of God in its deep steadiness. But however solid it may be, human love is always prey to selfishness and distractions bred by attachment. Even in the best of situations, human love is bound to become intermingled with attachment. When this happens, we can feel possessive of our loved ones or jealous or even vengeful if they do not meet our expectations. We can see our loved ones as extensions of ourselves, wanting them to make good impressions on other people so we ourselves will look good. We can want them to live out our fantasies, conform to our desires, meet our needs, provide us with security and worth. The degree to which we can feel or express authentic love is always conditional upon such attachments.

It is not so with God’s love. God goes on loving us regardless of who we are or what we do. This does not mean God is like a permissive parent who makes excuses and ignores the consequences of a child’s behavior. Such permissiveness is more cowardly than loving, because it devalues the child’s capacity for dignity and responsibility. In God’s constantly respectful love, the consequences of our actions are very real, and they can be horrible, and we are responsible. The freedom that God preserves in us has a double edge. On the one hand, it mean’s God’s love and empowerment are always with us. On the other, it means there is no authentic escape from the truth of our own choices.

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