Seeking and receiving unconditional love

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My daughter and I recently watched an episode of Sesame Street in which Big Bird learned about unconditional love and acceptance while attempting to join The Good Birds’ Club.

Because of his wide feet, yellow feathers and tall stature, Big Bird was denied entry into the club. Instead of being deterred by the denial, he asked a friend to magically shrink his body and change the color of his feathers from yellow to blue.

Despite his good intentions, Big Bird was not allowed to join The Good Birds’ Club.

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True friends like Elmo, Abby and the shopkeeper reminded Big Bird he didn’t have to change in order to be accepted and loved. So he eventually realized, “I’m a good bird just the way I am!”

Just as Big Bird received unconditional positive regard from friends, God desires for us to receive His unconditional love and acceptance.

During biblical times, individuals considered to be rejects or outcasts of society lived in a place called Lo Debar. Dr. Robert Wiegel has said that people without friendships or social activity may live in a type of Lo Debar today.

The same individuals may consider themselves to be “alone, dislocated and misunderstood” despite living right in the middle of life’s hustle and bustle. Inhabitants of Lo Debar likely feel unappreciated, unaccepted or unloved at times.

That’s probably why I felt so giddy after hearing an endearing phrase deep within my heart while listening for the Lord’s voice recently. I heard, “You are my love interest.”

The phrase lingered in my mind, causing me to smile. Then I paused and asked, “Am I really God’s love interest?”

John 3:16 eased my angst: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Ephesians 2:4-5 also assured me, saying, “…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace we are saved.” After pondering personal experiences of receiving God’s love, I affirmed: “I love Him because He first loved me.”

Several scriptures liken the love God has for His church to the love a man has for his bride. So the lyrics of a song called “Exceptional” by Baby Face Edmonds helped me reciprocate God’s love: “There are days when I’m so mystified/That you have chosen me, yes/That every night before I close my eyes/I thank God that I am me/To know that you care/To know that you give of yourself/And yet still ask nothing of me./Your love is exceptional,/Born of a heart of gold/It fills me up to my soul/That my cup it overflows/You’re my sunshine all day, all night/Always, for all time/You’re my whole life, star shine so bright/Your love’s unconditional/So exceptional!”

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at