Relaxing in His Love

 

Watch new parents holding their tiny newborn and you instinctively smile, slow down a little, and feel all snuggly yourself. They cradle their baby so tenderly, coo and smile and baby talk quietly, and without thinking they often start rocking and moving a little bit. It is all so precious and beautiful.

And when they hand their treasured bundle to you, you start doing the same thing. Instinctively you are gentle. And without any warning, your heart swells with love and concern for this little one. When the baby’s eyes open and look at you, full of trust and squinting at the bright lights, you smile back and whisper nonsense. And if the baby smiles at you, or at least moves their lips into some form of an almost smile, well then you consider yourself blessed and brag to everyone that the baby smiled at you.

All this happens almost magically. No one plans it. No one gives themselves a pep talk about being nice to a baby. It just happens. Time and time again and all over the world, this scene plays out repeatedly. Parents and others finding delight in the little one snuggled in their arms.

 

An illustration of love. 

 

It’s a beautiful picture of love. The baby is loved just because. Not because she deserves love or has done anything to earn love, but just because she is. The parents and others love her first because she is theirs. Eventually she will learn to love them back.

It will be with a simple love at first. Hugs and kisses and scribbled crayon layered scraps of paper freely given. Eskimo kisses and gifts of sticky pinecones and offerings of a bite from a half-eaten cookie soggy with mouth juice.

This love starts out one-sided, and grows unequally for years. Maybe forever. The parents will love, care for, protect, sacrifice for, and devote their care and energy to their child for years to come. Maybe the child will grow up and begin to realize how much her parents cared for and loved her after she has children of her own and starts the cycle all over again. And maybe she will never know the depth of love and pride that her parents carry for her. Or the heartache, worry, and anxiety she brought into their life at times.

As the baby grows, she develops her own will. Discovers she has desires of her own. Learns that life has rules and bedtimes and the word no. Tantrums are thrown and anger is exercised and as she gets older she sometimes wonders if her parents are hindering her life and holding her back from fun and adventure.

It will be years before she realizes, if she ever does, that her parents had rules and said no to protect her and keep her safe. And because they loved he so fiercely. And because they wanted what is best for her. Nor did they want her to suffer more than necessary. These rules and times of saying no were not because they were mean and hard and didn’t love her.

Yes, she will at times question her parent’s love, even when they are telling her that they love her. As they are disciplining her. Even as they are providing all the comforts and necessities of life they can offer her.

She will rage and question them and storm about the house and slam doors and rile at times about them. She will try and distance herself from them and then come running back to them. And always, they will welcome her back into their arms and reassure her of their love for her. For a while she will believe it, and then she will wonder again and again as time goes on. Her friends will tell her that her parents don’t love her. That they are trying to control her. That she knows what is best for her life. That they are fuddy-duddy’s.

But despite all the ups and down and what life throws into all of their lives, she will be changed by their fierce love. Molded by their love. Their love will grow her into a beautiful young woman. Their love will change her for the better, just like the absence of their love would change her for the worse.

 

Why we doubt God’s love for us.

 

Do you find yourself identifying with this scenario? Maybe as the parent? Maybe as the child? Well this is like the story of our heavenly father and us. He loves us with a tender and fierce love. Not because we deserve it, or we earned it, or we are good enough for it, but just because we are his. Just like the parents love that baby girl long before she can love them back, and just because she is theirs and now part of the family. They love their baby because they want to and can’t even help themselves.

Do you believe God loves you?

We may believe God’s love for us at first. Or in good times.  Or in the small way that we are able to understand. And then we want this and that and fall on tough times.

We hear about rules we dislike and we begin to question his love for us.

We listen to the lies of the enemy that we are not good enough. That we are to flawed to be loved or valued.

We begin to see the true state of our heart and think we are unworthy of his love and need to earn it. How could he just love us and all because? How could he really love us unconditionally when we don’t even love ourselves?

We wonder how he could like us, maybe even want to help us, if he knew the real us.

Part of the problem is that we grow up and quit being childlike.

Children are childlike. They don’t doubt love. They accept it.

 

Small children believe their parents when they are told they are loved. They don’t fear they have a black heart needing to be hidden. They don’t think they need to earn their parents’ love.

No, they delight in their parents’ love and try to please them.

They don’t worry about being enough of anything. Not being enough has never even occurred to them.

They delight in their parent’s praise and smiles and never think that their scribbled pictures or lopsided summersaults are not good enough.

And when they throw a tantrum or are naughty, they assume their parents will love them once again just like before.

Comparison and envy has not moved into their childlike hearts and made them yet doubt. Fear and the need to perform has not occurred to them yet. Worry and anxiety for the future has not even entered their minds. Bitterness and distrust has not taken root. Their parents have always been there and always will be. They have a childlike faith, trust, and love.

Small children do not look at all their externals: the size of their house, the size of their paycheck, the brand of their clothes, their mistakes and disorganized day, or their sins and wonder if their parents still love them. A difficult day does not mean they have lost their parent’s favor. Each day is a fresh start. Their memory is short.

Part of the problem is we grow up and quit being childlike.

Why we doubts God’s love for us.

 

We grow up and start looking around at our stuff, our circumstances, our current day, our trials or unanswered prayers and wonder if God loves us. We don’t look to his word, his faithfulness in our life, his promises about our future, or count our blessings and rejoice and know that nothing can separate us from his love as his child.

Nothing. No bad, horrible, long, black day. No meltdown.  No trial. No death of a loved one. No child not born. No prayer not answered. No bad hair day. No lack of money in the bank. No questioning of him in prayers. No periods of us turning from him. No dark sin. No addiction. Nothing. Nothing in this life. Absolutely nothing can separate us from him and his love for us.

But we don’t believe it.

As we grow into adults we are told that nothing is free in this world, and we assume that also means God’s love, grace, and freedom.

We are told that we should be beholden to no one. If someone gives you something, you give them something back. So we assume we need to somehow repay him in exchange for his love. Maybe we can get our act together and be good and eventually earn his love. We wrack our minds trying to think of ways not to be beholden to God.

We want to make the formula for him to love us as complicated as an Algebra II problem with 15 steps. Or maybe even an equal equation, but we can’t figure out how to do that.

We hear his love is free for the asking, but it is hard for us to ask for something and stand there with empty hands. We want to be the giver. To have some control. Because it is harder to take, than give.

Eventually we know we need him, so we take a little love, and then rush to pay him back through leading bible study and helping the homeless and wearing a shirt that says, “Are you saved?”

He stands there with free love dripping out of his hands, wanting to give us more, but we say we have enough and rush on trying to even the score we have with him.

And all along his love waits for us.

Part of the problem is we need to become like little children.

 

Things to remember. How to accept God’s love.

 

Small children are confident in their parents’ love for them. They believe their parents and place their trust in them. They don’t realize the love score (or scale) is uneven. They don’t try to earn love. They just accept love and never question if it really is free? If it really is necessary? If it comes with strings attached?

Let us become like little children. Let us be confident in our father’s love. Let us believe him and bask in his love and quit doubting it. Let us accept it as the free gift it is meant to be.

If we relax in his love and believe that nothing will separate us from his love, just think how we will change. We will be calmer. We will worry less, stress less, doubt less, and rail against him less. Confidence will be one of our virtues. Because we will know he has got this. Even when it doesn’t look like it.

If we as imperfect humans love our children as much as we do in our conditional flawed ways, how much more does our father love us?

Relax in his love. Bask in his love. Trust his love.

It will change you. It will shape and direct you into a better child.

Just like your love shapes those around you into better versions of themselves, his love will shape you into a better you.

Live like you are loved. Because you are. Now and always.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: How can you become more childlike?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

What We All Need: Now and Forever

 

From the time he was little, I have tried to let my son know that he is a blessing to our family. That without him our family would be missing something.

“What would I do without you?” I would sometimes ask him.

“I don’t know.” He would say.

“I would have no little boy to read to, or tuck in bed, or tickle until he laughs,” I would say. (Or something similar to let him know he was loved.)

One day, when he was around 6 or 7, we were in the kitchen together and I asked him if he knew how much I loved him?

“No,” he teased.

“Well bigger than this toaster. Bigger than this kitchen.” I said.

“Bigger than our town?” he asked.

“Oh yes. Bigger than our town. Even bigger than our state.”

“Bigger than the world?”

“Bigger than the universe,” I said.

And then I asked. “What would I do without you?”

And for the first time he didn’t even hesitate. he said, “Without me you would be sitting around the house all day just crying.”

I was a bit surprised. “I would?”

“Yup. Because your heart would have a big hole in it and you would be sad.”

I smiled and glanced at his sincere face that was waiting for an answer.

Now rationally I knew I would not be sitting around crying 24/7 without him, and I almost opened my mouth to tell him, and then I stopped.

“You are right,” I said. “Without you I would be crying all day with a big hole in my heart.”

He smiled and walked away. Content in my love for him.

Later that week when I told the story to a friend she asked why I hadn’t told him the truth? Was I giving him the wrong idea by not letting him know his older sister filled part of the hole in my heart? Wasn’t I promoting a mistruth by letting him think I really would be sitting around all day crying if I hadn’t had him?

I told her that of course I would not be sitting around crying all day, but wasn’t it sweet that he thought I would?

We all want to feel loved. Necessary.

 

Over time I have thought about her words. Should I have corrected him? Should I have promoted something not entirely accurate?

And the more I thought about it, the more I knew I did the right thing.

Because when it comes down to it, we all want to feel loved. Needed. A necessary part of a bigger group or family. We want to feel that without us, others would be sad, their life a little less bright. It’s a desire we are born with and one we die with.

I had a childhood friend who was told she was a mistake as she was growing up. The reason of her parent’s marriage. That if her mom had not gotten pregnant with her, then her parents would not have had to marry and their life would have been so much better.

What a heavy burden for a child to carry. What harsh words to weigh upon her soul and identity. What a sad message those words conveyed to her.

Who wants to be told they are not necessary? That they ruined other people’s lives? That the world would be a little brighter and nicer without them?

No one.

No one should ever hear these words.

But some people do.

And some people have.

And if you one of those people, then my heart breaks for you. And I want you to know that those words were a lie. They were selfish. They were pulling life from you, not nourishing you. No child should ever be told they do not matter. No one of any age should hear these words. These words are not a blessing. They are a curse.

Because when it comes down to it, we all want to know we are needed. A necessary part of the world. A blessing to those around us.

 

We all need to know we matter and make a difference. 

 

The tiny newborn needs to feel and hear they are wanted and precious.

The picky eater playing with their Legos and learning to count needs to know how valuable they are to the family and how much they are loved.

The teen with a defiant attitude and earbuds in their ears needs to know they are a blessing and joy.

The mom who feels she is failing as a mom and is at a loss as how to get her child to eat some vegetables needs to hear how necessary she is.

The man who is worried about providing for his family and connecting with his kids needs to be told that he is loved heart and soul. 

The worker who can’t seem to please their boss and doesn’t feel like they fit in with their coworkers needs to hear they are part of the team and needed for more than their output.

The person in a wheelchair that feels like life is moving on without them needs to feel they are valuable and loved no matter their abilities.

The 92-year old neighbor whose kids rarely visit needs to know she makes a difference.

Feeling unlovable? Remember how much you are loved.

 

We all need to know we are special, that we make a difference, that we are loved unconditionally, and always will be. That others delight in us and enjoy us.

Our enemy wants us to doubt the love from others, to feel negated, and not needed. Most of all he wants us to doubt God’s love for us. He wants us to ultimately believe we are unlovable and steal our joy and hope. Because if we think we are unlovable we isolate our self from others. We don’t love others and they can’t love us.

If we really knew the deep love that God has for us, nothing could stop us. Nothing. It is the most important thing in the world. The most powerful, motivating, and life changing thing. God is love. Always and Forever. He will love us because it is his nature. He can’t help but love us. And that is a wonderful thought.

He sees us through eyes of love. He sees us as valuable, necessary, and wonderfully made. He uses many terms of endearments to proclaim his love for us. We are his beloved, his children, his treasure.

Remember this fierce love he has for you, now and forever. Especially on dark and long days.

No matter what anyone has ever said or told you. You are valuable and necessary. Without you the world would most certainly be a little darker, a little sadder.

Believe this. Live like you are loved. Like you do make a difference. Because you do.

Now, go tell someone today how much you love them. That they make your world brighter.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important!

Theresa

 



Need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.



Join the Discussion: What makes you feel loved?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Living in a Different Land and Reality

I watch my son build a Lego city. A round parking garage takes shape. High rises sprout around the city with various roof top designs. One triangular, one tall and spiky, one with a fly through. A park is installed in the middle of the city, which sits alongside a riverfront.

We talk about the city. Together add various Lego shaped blocks to building tops.

He adds some Lego people.

The city grows.

It looks believable.

But does it look believable enough to join the world?

Would you want to stop your current life and live in a Lego City?  How about a Lego movie?

Lego chicken legs and plastic white coffee cups anyone? Maybe try a hard slice of Lego pizza?

Come on, sleeping on a Lego bed is not that hard when you have a Lego spine. Nor is sitting in a Lego chair that difficult when you have Lego knees.

Now try and walk with your Lego legs. Pretty disjointed. And finer motor skills are reduced with your Lego elbows and gripper hands.

Come on. Don’t tell me that you are giving up already and heading back to planet earth, your comfortable zone?

Most of us do not want to live in a world created by ourselves or others. A movie set. A miniature doll house. A comic book. Disney World.

All these created worlds have limitations and drawbacks. No world created by man is as good or better than our own world.

Yet Jesus came and lived in his created world, not as God, but as a man. He came to live in a world with many limitations he was not used to. Gravity, air, laws of nature, time constraints, pain and suffering, illness, death, sin, decay, childhood and aging, war and hate. These things do not exist in his world—a world so perfect we can’t even begin to imagine.

He came to this world not only to experience all those limitations, but to experience what it was like to be human. To be one of his created beings going through all the stages of life, including birth and death.

And not just for a few weeks, or days, but for thirty some years he lived as a human in this once perfect world he had created. He experienced all the emotions of a human. He saw first-hand how man had changed his world for the worse, how his animals were treated, how man degraded and regarded other humans. He saw the laws humans put upon other humans. Noticed those living in excess and poverty. He personally experienced the sinful world and understood how deeply we needed his salvation. Heard the creation groaning for change.

We cannot say that he does not know what it is like to be a human. To live as a child under the rule of parents, a man under the rule of government. To learn to eat with utensils, to be potty trained, to do chores, learn to read,. He saw loved ones die; experienced hate and anger, love, and fear; was kind to those who mistreated him, experienced pain and cruelty; knew life and its problems and routine in so many ways. He felt every emotion, yet never sinned.

So as Christmas moves closer and we celebrate this time where Jesus came to earth as a baby, let’s think about how remarkable it really was for a creator to join and live amongst his creation. To experience all the normal limitations, we live with daily.

And if you are wondering if you are loved. I mean truly loved by your creator, think about what he did for you by doing the unthinkable — by coming into this imperfect world as a human. Think about how he truly knows what it is to be a human and live with problems amid the consequences of sin.

Think anything you might tell him will shock him? He has seen it all. Heard it all.

He lived in a family and community. He had neighbors. He knows joy and sorrow, despair and beauty, bickering and love. He lived on earth so he could be our brother; our advocate; our savior.  He joined us in this beautiful but messy journey called life so he could better understand us, better serve us, and better love us.

He came into this different world, this different reality, for you.

Join the Discussion: What are you thinking about this Christmas season? What land or reality would you like to live in?