I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:18-19

I want to tell you about being loved.

For years, I thought that if I looked and behaved a certain way I could earn love from everyone. This belief, however naïve, has both helped and harmed me. More often than not, my relentless pursuit to please others has caused me a lot of angst.

What I’ve learned is that even if I wear the right clothes and say all the right things, some people still won’t like me. No matter how hard I try, I actually can’t earn anyone’s love.

It took me a long time to realize this.

What I crave, deeply and unapologetically, is unconditional love.

We humans aren’t the best at unconditional love. We like to draw lines in the sand: I can’t stand her, she’s a Republican. He doesn’t belong here, he’s gay. They aren’t welcome here, they’re Muslim.

The love of a puppy, on the other hand, has given me insight into what unconditional love really looks like. They say “a baby changes everything.” You know what? So does a puppy.

There’s nothing quite like coming home from a long day of work, frustrated and wearied by the same old problems and the same old Chicago traffic, to be greeted by a sweet, furry puppy who is so excited to see you he’s shaking with glee.

My puppy doesn’t care what I messed up at the office. My puppy doesn’t care how much I weigh. My puppy doesn’t care that I wasn’t such a great human that day, that I wasn’t as kind or as loving or as compassionate as I could have been. My puppy’s love is boundless.

To be loved this way is the best feeling in the world. It has been so healing.

Yet my puppy’s love pales in comparison to the love of the ultimate healer, Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t care about any of those things either. Jesus doesn’t draw lines in the sand. Think of someone in your life who is hard to love. Jesus died on the cross for them too. Jesus died on the cross for everyone.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we can’t earn God’s love. God’s healing, redeeming love cannot be measured by human standards. Paul writes,I pray that you may have the power … to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

What would life look like, I wonder, if each time I looked in the mirror, instead of passing judgment on my appearance I was reminded of God’s incredible, indescribable unconditional love for me? How would my day change? How would that knowledge change the way I treat others?

What would it look like for you, today, to be filled with the knowledge of God’s rich and unending love for you?

Erin Strybis
Erin Strybis is a freelance writer based in Chicago and author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). Find more of her stories at her website and on Instagram.

Read more about: