Soon after I brought home my newborn son, my firstborn, I held him in my arms as my heart welled up with love. I look down upon his tiny frame, heart brimming, then thought about his future and asked, “Why would anyone ever judge him over the course of his life?” I was steeped and soaked in love, so much so that every other possible response to his six pounds of feathery lightness was exiled from my mind. I was struck hard by the thought of it: The immense incongruity between my boundless love and any future denigration against him seemed absurd and ridiculous. I was shown what it means to love someone without any prejudice from the start.
And of course, the same thing happened with my second-born, my daughter. It never really leaves any parent, I’d wager. You can’t truly judge a newborn. They have their own gravity that pulls us in, and it is one of supreme and exclusive lovability.
But I’ve appraised everyone else in my life: as a child, my scheming weighed all my parents’ reactions to me. To this day I’m selective of my friends and guarded around strangers. My first evaluation of my wife was her beauty. But never had I been introduced to someone and responded wholly out of love from the start—until I met my children.
The sole “job” of infants
But since then I’ve found it’s somewhat astonishing that we ever judge each other. We’re not really all that far away from being infants, after all. Sure, we all know folks who make a complete mess of themselves and other people’s lives, who stumble about society as if drunk on their own self-importance. But the persona those unfortunate souls built up is what irritates us so, not the person who was purely loved as an infant so long ago. To this day they share in the core dignity present in my little ones, even if they’ve tried to hide the truth of themselves behind a tapestry of misery and self-destruction. And so we judge what people fabricate about themselves, forgetting that at some point very early in their lives their sole “job” was to be loved without qualification.
To some degree we ought to be guarded and not imprudently yield to others, especially those known to cause us repeated harm. But everyday judgmentalism is a kind of horrible thing that is a kind of “background noise of denigration”.
What confounds me as a father is that someday someone will judge my children. For my baby girl, they will say she’s not woman enough, not sophisticated enough, not outgoing or pretty enough, or too shy, prudish, needy or annoying. They’ll tell my boy he’s not man enough, not daring enough, not debonnaire, or too cheap, geeky, boring, or unoriginal. They’ll point out imperfections, personal inadequacies, and failures to live up to arbitrary social standards so to exclude or ridicule. They’ll come up with something to glorify their egos above my kids because people by and large treat others like marketplace goods. I will teach my children to avoid such people, but that doesn’t change the ache in my soul for people who participate in these prideful delusions. They’re exhausted as they sprint vanity’s treadmill, knowing little that their only job is to be loved.
The saddest thing is that so many children believe criticisms levied against them. They carry the weight of their imperfection as saddled by peers and relatives. Or society will impose those lies, too, often implicitly through marketing and advertisement, but nonetheless with a wicked dose of cunning and glamor. And the effects of this noise persist even after a mother, father or grandparent has invested an infinite outpouring of love upon them that, if seen for what it is, would outweigh such inane judgments as a boulder would instantaneously tip the scales against a grain of sand.
The folly of judging others
So I can tell you that from this point of view, from the point of view of a father whose love for his son and daughter can never be fenced in or corralled, that such judgmentalism simply exposes a life of acquired foolishness. It’s a mountain’s worth of silliness, posturing and self-aggrandizement. People spend a lifetime becoming so exacting in their self-styled superiority over others that they forfeit the far simpler path of knowing that we are as lovable as an infant. They extinguish our best collective chance at accessing a truly affirming society because they’re so distracted by their own conceit.
We only got here because we were loved with the kind of love that is thoroughly insensible precisely because it is unflinchingly unconditional. That primary thing, that core of the human experience that none of us have avoided—being lovable for simply being human—is the only genuine sum of who we are.
Everything else is some encrustation, some superfluity, that we add to who we think we are, but ultimately subtracts from who we really are. The only person we really are is hardly any different from the one who was introduced to our mothers and fathers long ago. We have knowledge and experience and families of our own now, but lovableness has never ceased to remain.
We will all let each other down or act sinfully, and we all must repent of our evil. Being drunk on our own recklessness denies our innermost lovable truth as well. My son and daughter will experience discipline when they misbehave but my words and actions will never travel a hair’s width apart from their lovability. I will cast every correction and every redirection in terms of the person I see in them. And as wild as my boy is, he cannot budge my view of his lovableness.
And so it should be with everyone else. Nothing will change the fact that they forever have only one “job”: to be loved into eternity. And the only valid response to that fact is the corresponding duty of loving those whose only job is to be loved.
We’re never far from infancy. Compared to God, we are hardly anything more than infants, wholly dependent on his loving act of sustaining our every moment. Our job as a race of people from the very beginning, from Eden, has been to be loved, even though we bit the fruit because we thought there was more. Yet even then, our lovableness simply hid behind our shame and guilt.
But in the beginning, it was not so. We were created as lovable. And our lovableness is everything that God’s children will experience for all eternity. In the Age to Come, we will only know the outpouring of love that repeatedly and wondrously crashes into our souls, simply because the Godhead cannot help but do that which is its very essence: the act of love itself.