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I heard this song called “Perfect”, by Alanis Morissette this past Sunday (at church, of all places), and the last line of the song is “We’ll love you just the way you are if you’re perfect.”

Many Asian kids can relate to this song because it is about how parents push theirs kids to be better, to try harder.  But I do think that’s not exactly how parents feel; I suspect the song is coming from the children’s point of view, thinking their parents will only love them if they are perfect.

So how do parents really think?  As a single guy, what do I know about that?  As always, I can only draw “experiences” from movies.  The song reminds me of the movie “The Joy Luck Club”, a movie about 4 pairs of Chinese mother/daughters.  Most memoriable scene for me is when one of the daughters complains to her mother, that she always expects the best from her daughter.  Her mother replies, “I never expect, only hope for the best.”  That is probably the first time I see how parents feel.  Like most parents, their love for their child is unconditional (or close to unconditional), it’s not when children becoming perfect, but they certainly hope they can be closer and closer to perfection.  So when children feel that their parents are expecting, instead of hoping, they don’t feel the love, and hence, a lot like Morissette’s song.

So how does all this related to church? We know that God’s love for us is unconditional.  And we are to follow God’s will, that He has a plan for us, to be more and more like Christ.  He has even prepared the plan for us, and we are “expected” to follow.  Maybe in the same way, we feel God’s love for us is not unconditional, because whenever we are expected (or even demanded) we don’t think it’s love.  Maybe it helps if we think that God hopes for the best for us, just like the Chinese mother hopes for the best for her daughter; we are just encouraged to follow God’s will, strongly encouraged.

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