Who Has Loved You Into Being?

Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers for his friends, once said: In fact, from the time you were very little, you've had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving.” With these words, he was simply stating the obvious: children learn to smile by being smiled to, talk by being spoken to, and learn to sing by being sung to. If a child was never spoken to or never sung to, she would likely struggle to do so on her own. To a great extent, we all learn by imitating those who are closest to us. This is why we so often see ourselves reflected in our children.

But, for Rogers, this imitation principle goes beyond behaviors and preferences. It cuts deep into our very ability to love. We, more often than not, love the way we were, and are, loved. Of course, we are not merely pictures or a collection of our past. We are constantly in motion, unraveling stories, unlearning old things and learning new ones. Yet, it is unarguable that the beginning of our story is immensely influenced by the love we did, or didn’t, receive.

We are loved into loving. As Christians, and Mr. Rogers was, we could even say that we are loved into being. After all, isn’t love what moves our Creator to make us? Isn’t love what motivates our Redeemer to sustain us? Isn’t love what fuels our hope that He who loved us into being will do so again at his return? Love is at the beginning of our story and at its end (which then the beginning of an even better story).

But what about the middle of our story? These last few days, as ordination approaches, I am reflecting on those who have loved me into being who I am today. I am the fruit of a multitude of people whose love for me, in ways I can’t even fully comprehend, has shaped me into who I am today and has brought me this far. None of my accomplishments or milestones have happened in a vacuum. None have much to do with me, but they do have much to do with the love with which those around me partnered with God in growing me up. I am who I am today because God, and those available to his guidance, loved me into being. And I am forever thankful for each one of them.

What about you? Who has loved you into being?

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