I Loved you First

by Theresa Newell

I recently attended a memorial for my aunt. There was a table with many pictures. One picture, my cousin explained, was of the last hug she shared with her mother – my aunt – before my aunt died. “I love you,” my cousin said to her. “I loved you first,” my aunt had replied—a mother’s love expressed first and at the last. 

Perhaps my aunt remembered, as I remember with my own children, wanting them before they were conceived. Even in eighth grade I wanted to someday have children. I loved them even then. Many years later, as I was pregnant, my love grew. I felt the presence of another energy, another life force, inside me. When each was born, my love became embodied—love incarnate. Nothing could ever separate my children from my love. As my aunt said, I loved them first.

How God must see us! Our Creator, who loved us from before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, can see us through nothing other than loving eyes. We are God’s love embodied. Is it any wonder we have the unearned grace of God? God loved us first. 

Imagine if we could look at ourselves, and each other, through the loving eyes of God who loved us first. We are God’s love embodied. With such a love, I could afford to love others without counting the cost, because my value cannot be diminished. What if every single person felt loved to this extent? No need for self-loathing or self-harm. “I loved you first,” God cries. The soul feels its worth. Hope arises. Death is defeated. Resurrection reigns.

Theresa Newell is a hospital chaplain, a postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Olympia, a wife, and a mother to mostly grown foster, adopted and biological children. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, the youngest of her children, and her Great Dane.

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