He Loved Us First

Today’s new Contributor is Betsy Donlon, friend of Bellator Society.

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“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11

This was part of the second reading at our wedding and these words have been a foundation for me in the nine years since that day – we love because HE first loved us. It’s written on our bathroom mirror, it’s written on our hearts, it’s woven into our daily lives. But what is this love and what does it look like? My mind is brought to the place where my husband David proposed to me 10 years ago.

We stood before this outdoor crucifix talking and praying, and it was at this spot that he asked me to marry him.

It felt ordinary and extraordinary all at once – it was so simple, just us, before our Lord… yet so profound and joyful knowing we would spend our lives together with the one God chose for us.

Since that day, that mark of a new beginning, I have drawn on that memory many times. That memory where my husband showed me what the love of God is, what it looks like, and what it would look like lived out by him (and me?) in our marriage. It is not easy, it is not comfortable, but it is ultimate freedom.

I have often pondered what it means – we love because He first loved us.

As a young child, I never seemed to struggle with the fact that God loves me. It was just a truth I embraced freely and never doubted. As I have gotten older, though, I realize that I actually do resist full receptivity of His love for me.

I question if I am really worthy, if I have done enough, if I have been a daughter He could be proud of. And my marriage has brought these thoughts and doubts to light in painful yet sanctifying ways as I am stripped of what is blocking that love.

David shows me the love of Christ for His Church, the love of the Cross, each day in the tiny sacrifices, the everyday moments. He makes me coffee every morning, he lets me sit on the side of the table that doesn’t face the sun so I don’t get a headache, he lets the dog out at the (insane) hour of 4 or 5am, he parents with a supernatural gentleness even after he’s told them to do something 500 times, he grabs me to dance around the kitchen and live in the present moment (which is so NOT my way), he pushes me to think about the other person’s side, he rolls his window down to talk to the person on the side of the road as I am reaching to lock my door, he changes every light bulb and air filter, organizes the pantry and refrigerator multiple times a week as I just throw everything in there, he leads our family in prayer, he forgives and truly lets go of hurts … these are just some of the ways he has kept his promise from that day of our engagement, showing me what marriage will look like, showing me the way of the Cross as the way of love.

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Betsy Donlon is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Aquinas College. She and her husband David have 3 children and they love camping, hiking, swimming, and baking cookies.

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Betsy Donlon

Betsy Donlon

Betsy Donlon is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Aquinas College. She and her husband David have 3 children and they love camping, hiking, swimming, and baking cookies.

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