“I wuv you so mut, mommy.”

On Valentine’s Day, those adorable words echoed through the public bathroom while a mother was patiently and lovingly cleaning her small girl after she’d had an accident in her pants. The mother hadn’t spoken the words first, but obviously the little girl saw the motherly acts for what they were: demonstrations of love.

As we stood next to each other washing our hands, I smiled. The scene unfolding before me was perfect for the Valentine’s season and all the emphasis that’s put on love that day.

Looking at the innocent little face, I had the fleeting thought that when she was born, that precious girl didn’t know any words. And as she grew, she learned. As her needs were met, her tears wiped away, warm snuggles given and lullabies sung; she learned what love was simply from seeing the actions of her parent(s). This little girl loves because she was shown how to love.

I am reminded of 1 John 4:9, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

For the longest time, when I read that verse I would think of it more in the terms of loving God because He had done great things for us. A reciprocal kind of love, if you would. Or, better yet, I think I would be safe to say, a “human” kind of love.

Perhaps that’s how we find ourselves floundering sometimes when life feels unfair. After all, if we love God with a reciprocal kind of love, then it will shake a little when things don’t go the way we want them to.

But today, I saw that verse in a whole new way. Maybe I’m totally behind in this. Maybe I’ve heard it preached about countless times already… I don’t really know. But for whatever reason, the light bulb went on today.

We wouldn’t know what real love is if God hadn’t shown us first.

He blazed a trail through our earthly world, and He’s reaching out His hand in an offer to take us deeper into this amazing, life-altering love. His “God” kind of love.

Throughout the Bible, we see over and over how He’s demonstrated this deep, sacrificial, unconditional love. We see how He beckons us to dare to embrace it, be changed by it and then give it freely to those around us.

This “God” kind of love will always trump our “human” kind of love.

Human love can be fleeting, affected by our circumstances or even our mood. It can have flashes of glorious depths, but it still has shallow spots. It will offer moments of completely fulfilling emotions, yet is still plagued with occasional disappointments.

But this “God” kind of love? Well, it’s something we may never quite fully grasp here on earth. It’s without condition, without limits, without favorites, without ups and downs, without selfishness, without any trace of sin. It has no benchmarks or sliding scale to determine what’s deserved.

If you haven’t taken the time to read 1 Corinthians 13 lately, I encourage you to do so. Let your mind replay those words. Maybe there is one description, one concept, that you need to be reminded of today.

For me? I still vividly remember the day a few years back when I sat in prayer and God whispered to me that His love is unconditional. He urged me to stop trying to earn it, or to be afraid that He would change His mind about His love for me.

My response? Tears. And lots of them. You see, somewhere along the way my heart had been punctured by “human” love letting me down. But as I allowed God to reveal more and more about the love He offers, that hole was filled, and I was healed.

What is He whispering to you today? What hurt does He want to heal?

Listen to Him. Let your soul be nourished. Let your wounds be healed. Allow yourself to extend grace to those around you who try to give you the “God” kind of love but sometimes revert to the “human” kind of love. Take notes, and be a diligent student.

But most of all, keep in mind the marvelous truth that you are loved, and are being taught how to love by the One who does it best.

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