The Reasons We Love

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(c) Fox TV Network

Malcom in the Middle, a sitcom about a comically dysfunctional family, was a smash hit on Fox for seven seasons (2000-2006). 
Lois, the overbearing mother (played by Jane Kaczmarek) is married to Hal, the emotionally immature but heart’s-in-the-right-place dad (played by Bryan Cranston, whom few people suspected at the time was on his way to becoming a critically acclaimed star).  They have four boys, each of whom is blessed with a spectrum of fascinating personality quirks. 
Toward the end of season four, Lois is expecting their fifth child.  The family has been plunged into chaos.  In a memorable scene, it’s pouring down rain.  The boys are wrestling with each other in the mud.  Lois and Hal are drenched and discouraged.  She doesn’t want to bring another child into the world when everything seems to be unraveling.
What she needs more than anything else at this moment is reassurance.
Lois (speaking to Hal):  OK, here’s what we’re gonna do.  You’re going to tell me three, no five, no seven – I want you to tell me seven things you love about me!  Seven reasons why this is all worthwhile.  Seven reasons why we’re still here.
Hal (after a long pause): Seven?
Lois: Seven!  And I have to believe every one of them.  I mean, you have to say them right now!
Hal: Seven?
Lois (keeling over in labor pain): Oh, please, just do it!
Hal: OK, OK, OK.  (pause) I love how your neck smells in the morning. 
Lois: OK, that’s one.
Hal: I love how every one of your toes looks like it came from another person’s foot.
(Lois groans, relapsing into pain).
Hal: And…and…and I love how you’re honest, and fearless, and how when I’m sick you treat me like a baby.
Lois: OK, that last one counts for two.  You’ve got three more to go.  (Suddenly she puts her hand on Hal’s face).  I can tell you that I just adore this – the way your forehead gets all crinkly when you’re worried.
Hal: And I love the way you cut your crust off your toast, even though you end up eating both anyway.
Lois: I love your loyalty, and your kindness, and that you still suck in your gut whenever I walk into the room.
Hal: I love how you didn’t dump me when you found out that I was in love with you.
Lois: I love that you still married me, even after you met my parents! 
(They both laugh).
Hal: And I love that nothing in my life – not cribbage with my dad, not a new Van Halen album, not even an old Van Halen album for that matter, or any of their solo albums…
Lois: Hal, Hal…
Hal: I love that nothing in my life is complete until I’ve shared it with you.
And in the midst of the rain, the mud, and the sheer chaos of their lives, they collapse into each other’s arms.  Here’s the original scene.

We all need to be reminded why “all of this” is worthwhile – why we shouldn’t give up on life.
Love so often comes down to the little things: the smell of a neck, crinkly foreheads, and funny habits.  And it involves being fearless and kind and loyal and honest.  And then there’s that last reason – that nothing is complete, or what it’s supposed to be, until it’s shared with someone else who loves us – someone who knows all about the good, the bad, and the ugly in our lives. 
As everyone who’s ever been part of a marriage knows, we love someone else not because we can tick off the reasons why (let alone seven reasons) but simply because we have decided to love them – and to keep on making that same decision day after day after day. 
When we come to the dynamic of being loved by God, an important question arises.
Does God love us because we’re worthy human beings, or are we worthy human beings because God loves us? 
This is not a trivial issue.  It lies at the very heart of our spiritual security.  If we have to demonstrate that “we’re worth it,” we will always be on probation.  We will always have to prove ourselves.  And we will always fall short. 
The apostle Paul, fortunately, clears away every shred of uncertainty:
“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.  Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-6, The Message). 
God decided to create us, to choose us, and to care for us before we ever took our first breath.  Every day you can thank him that he will never run out of reasons to love you.
And that not one of them will have anything to do with the appearance of your toes.