I was recently listening to a sermon about Mary Magdalene and how when she first encountered Jesus, she made the declaration that she “didn’t know how to love him.” However, Jesus said in return that there was nothing she could do because he already loved her. He loved her first, in return she was able to love him. When I think about this, I’m reminded of my puppy Jodie.
When I first brought her home, I wanted to love her so badly. I wanted to provide for her, and give her a nice healthy and happy home, but I couldn’t. I knew I should love her and shower her with admiration, but I couldn’t. I didn’t really know how to love her. Her first night at home, I lay on the floor and cried in frustration. I felt like I was failing my new puppy who needed to be loved. While I was lying there, she came up to me and cuddled under my arms. She loved me already. I didn’t need to do anything extraordinary to earn her love, she loved me just because. She loved me even when I couldn’t return the love to her. She would follow me around the apartment wherever I went. When I was sitting on the balcony reading, she was there. When I was cooking breakfast, she was there. When I was showering, she was right there. She never left me. Even in the times when all I wanted to do was hurl her from the balcony, she still loved me. Even in the moments when I locked her in her crate, she cried out for me and loved me then too.
I began to love that puppy immeasurably. She was comforting and supporting and dependable. I cannot even grasp how fond I was of her. Jodie taught me a valuable lesson about love, especially God’s love. I feel at times, we want to love God, but like Mary Magdalene, we just don’t know how. Like Moses, we are afraid to look at God, so we hide our faces. But he still loves us anyway. Like my little pup Jodie, God has loved me in my moments of utter despair, and he’s loved me in times of great joy. His love is unfailing, and he is always there. His love is there through the pain, through the confusion, through the chaos, through the heartache, through the panic, through all the sinfulness. Through it all, his love is always there. When we accept his love and allow him to love us completely and unconditionally, then we learn to love him in return. When we love God, we are then able to pour his love unto others.
Mary Magdalene would not have been the picture of a saint from the onset, but she allowed God’s love to enter her heart and in return, her life was transformed. Only the love of God has that transformative power. And even when all we can do is throw up our hands and say, “God, I don’t know how to love you,” His love is there for us to accept. I loved Jodie because she first loved me, and I love God because he first loved me.