I've been turning over last night's post throughout the day today. And as I did, a new way of thinking about it began to form. (And thank you, Katherine, for your part in creating those new rivulets of thought.)
Slowly, it began to occur to me--the strangeness of the command to love. I'd had this thought before, but it hadn't swept into this particular space before. Really, how can anyone be commanded to love? Isn't that sort of an oxymoron?
Then, somewhere along the day (as I soaked myself in Tillich and Barth and Rahner in preparation for my first Comprehensive Exam on Thursday!!!!), I remembered that corny song that says something like: "We love because God first loved us."
And then Katherine's thought came in there in reponse to my heartfelt question: How in the world do I teach my son to love himself? She wrote: "By loving him?"
Somewhere in there I thought, "Wow, I sure did put a lot of pressure on the boy by reciting this particular Scripture." It occured to me that that Scripture really puts the onus on the person. But it says nothing about God's grace. And what if it's impossible to do any of it (love God, love neighbors, love yourself)? Suddenly I remembered that I went to a Lutheran seminary, for heavens sake, and if I learned anything there (and I did, I learned a ton!), it was that relying on ourselves to get it right is always a sure-fire way to fail.
So this evening as the three of us walked home from our dinner at a fantastic Chinese restaurant, I said to E: "Let's give this a try . . . For now, don't worry about loving yourself or even loving God. I know you already love others; that comes naturally to you. Instead," I said, "learn how to feel loved by the people in your life. And pay attention to how it feels to know God loves you. And then, maybe, the rest will follow on its own."
I don't know if this is it. But it feels right at the moment. It feels just crazy enough to suggest it's God's gift.