Can you love unconditionally? In relation to a particular individual, you can love unconditionally without reciprocation. But not independently. You are not a closed system in that relationship. There must be another Giver that is greater that has loved you better.
In this chapter, JVJ is said to have been “no less feeble than Cosette. Thanks to him she could walk upright. Thanks to her, he could persist in virtuous deeds.”
He was walking in the role he was given with the relational resource he was provided. And the results were not in his control. He was just as dependent on resources outside himself, only further along in the journey with a different set of experiences and callings than she would receive.
In any position of prominence there is no more credit than the humbler supporting position. The parent needs as much as the child. The teacher as much as the mentor. Either place has its calling and requirements for resources. Only some are a better fit at a given time. The calling is to use what you have and what you have been given in the way that would honor the Giver.
JVJ joined his life to Cosette not from a powerful place of unilateral lovingkindness and self-denial. Aha! He need her too. On the outside it looked as if He was the strong independent one, being the parent and having the material means and strength for rescue and guardianship. But God was the planner and the sustainer – only He can love independently, and only He can supply my needs. And only He knows what’s going on. Let me have the grateful humble heart of JVJ to enter my calling, not powerfully, but motivated by how I have been loved.