I Hate Your Love

Parents, Prodigals, and God

Juliette Alvey / 12.5.22

The feeling snuck up on me, like a silent wolf trailing me in the forest. I thought I was happy about our Thanksgiving plans (or lack thereof). There was no pressure to perform, and it didn’t matter that my mashed potatoes turned out all gooey and soupy. But after getting up at no particular time and leisurely drinking my coffee, I found myself replying to my husband and kids with snippy comments and feeling the burning of tears behind my eyes. I tried to convince myself to be grateful and to enjoy the day, but the more I tried to convince myself, the worse I felt. Because on top of unasked for emotions, I was giving myself a guilt trip about how I should be feeling about the day.

I know most people had obligations on Thanksgiving, and if they heard that all we did was hang out in our pajamas all day and make a Thanksgiving meal for ourselves they might be envious. Many people hosted family or friends or were invited as guests, and with that comes stress. So as I was forcing myself to enjoy the day and pushing the feelings further and further down, I asked myself, “Why am I not grateful for my husband and kids? Why is it so easy to push away those closest to us?”

Nick Kroll, in his recent Netflix stand-up special talks about why we are so mean to our moms.

He ends the bit in a pretend conversation with his mom by saying, “I hate your love.” I don’t want to give away the ending of the whole performance, but in a surprisingly sincere moment, he talks about his revelation about why moms pick up your phone call after the first ring. He begins to understand the unconditional and let’s face it, annoying, love of a mother.

What is this phenomenon of us despising the person who loves us most? Don’t we want to be loved? Why do we shoot ourselves in the foot by pushing away love?

Teachers and parenting experts explain that kids feel safe to be at their worst with those closest to them. They hold it together all day at school and then come home and let us have it. So apparently I should be taking it as a compliment when they treat me so poorly.

The paradox of close relationships is that we are desperately needing them while at the same time desperately wanting to reject them.

This is how we are with God too. Deep down, we know that he will not disown us, that in fact he will do anything (and has done everything) to stay in relationship with us, and so we run. We speak to him with a nothing-to-lose tone because we are safe. We know he will always forgive, and unlike our human relationships, he will never hold those previous words against us.

I believe this tendency to reject or run away from unconditional love shows how deep our sin can go. It is the Adam and Eve desire to take God’s place and to have complete independence. We want to do everything on our own. There’s also a degree of self hatred at work here. We may not even realize we are doing this, but we reject love because we feel we don’t deserve it. We find ourselves so unlovable that we (knowingly or unknowingly) think anyone who actually loves us that much must be an idiot, or crazy, or clingy, or suspiciously too overinvolved, or too caring. Maybe their love simply seems too good to be true. They must not understand who I truly am. We want to run away from those who totally and completely accept us.

When my son was little, he was a runner (a sprinter really). I used to observe other parents allowing their child to run off a little ways, so confident that the child would return to them, and unbelievably they always did. But I had no such confidence and did not want to test the theory, especially if we were anywhere near a parking lot or road. I had to run after him so many times. It could be extremely stressful, especially in public places.

There was one circumstance, however, where it was a guarantee that my son would not be running away from, but rather straight into my arms. That was when he was hurt. Need trumps desire every time.

We may desire to do it on our own, to be independent, to deny the One who loves us unconditionally, to question why we even deserve that kind of love, but the second we are hurting we run straight to him, and no one else will do. Even if it is in a challenging way, such as, “God, why would you let this happen?!” we cry out to him. The One we have done our best to distance ourselves from is our only solace, and He is right there to wipe away our tears.

We can be at our worst with God. When we experience this back and forth love in our human relationships, it may result in feelings of resentment, but God’s nature is to welcome us back without regard for the fact that we don’t fully appreciate his love. He will run beside us when we are fleeing, and his arms are open wide when we come crying back. His love is the same through it all.

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6 responses to “I Hate Your Love”

  1. Grace Leuenberger says:

    This was an honest and compelling post, Juliette! Your thoughts about deeply desiring to be seen and known by others while also wanting to push them away feel so relatable. It also really reminds me of a Wendell Berry poem I was reading last night:

    “Loving you has taught me the infinite
    longing of the self to be given away
    and the great difficulty of that entire
    giving, for in love to give is to receive
    and then there is yet more to give;
    and others have been born of our giving
    to whom the self, greatened by gifts,
    must be given, and by that giving
    be increased, until, self-burdened,
    the self, staggering upward in years,
    in fear, hope, love, and sorrow,
    imagines, rising like a moon,
    a pale moon risen in daylight
    over the dark words, the Self
    whose gift we and all others are,
    the self that is by definition given.”

  2. Juliette says:

    Beautiful poem, Grace! Thank you.

  3. Jerry Watts says:

    What a powerful testimony and even more powerful exegesis of our condition that reminds us the loving arms of our gracious God! Thank you for this gift.

  4. Paula Sevier says:

    Intimacy is scary.😂

  5. Paula Sevier says:

    Intimacy can be scary.😂

  6. […] the Father’s arms when we get hurt, and to shamelessly cry-out to God in our grief and fear. As Juliette Alvey wrote for Mbird, kids are comfortable being at their worst with those who they know will love them unconditionally […]

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