Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
Studying the eyes of my one-year-old daughter gave me a glimpse of the battle we face all of our lives. One tiny moment in the middle of nothing all that special was a window to truth far greater than a moment.
For the hundredth time that day I was defining her boundaries. You parents know the tireless testing of boundaries by those little hands. There never seems to be an end to the string of “No!”s coming from your lips. At varying volumes according to your current level of frustration with the whole process.
Well, this particular instance was not all that forceful, just another “No” to continue building her fence of restrictions. But this time, I noticed her face when I told her. There appeared to be in her eyes a glint of recognition. Not so much a recognition of the specific limit in question, but of the whole concept of the word “No”. No meant more than a simple boundary. In this case, it represented her standing with Dad. In that tiny little mind, I think I saw the first processings of performance-based approval. Her look made me think, “Oh no, I’m teaching her to understand her worth based on my approval of her actions!” Realizing, of course, that she could not possibly have been thinking that at such a young age, but her eyes just seemed to be conveying that simple cause and effect type of behavior.
To an extent, we want that. We give her boundaries, and she learns that life goes well when she adheres to them. That is better for her and for us. But the problem arises when we learn to perform as a child, and forget to stop the performance as an adult. The boundaries help keep us safe for a time while we are taught what really matters in life. The words “Please” and “Thank You” do not of themselves hold merit, it is the consideration of the worth of the recipient that mirror’s God’s heart. Not touching the special items on Grandma’s coffee table will prevent breakage (and perhaps costly replacement by Mom & Dad), but more importantly, it allows time to learn to honor other people by respecting their stuff.
At some point, we must make a transition from rule-keeping, boundary-obeying living to a more pro-active, humble submission to loving other people around us. Considering others better than yourself. Just like Jesus.
Man, he was amazing. He is amazing. Even when I spit in his face, he stands by my side. Even though it was my stupidity that presented him with the choice of giving up his own life. Even then, he loves me.
I don’t have to perform. I don’t have to get it right all the time. He still loves me. And it is the same for my kids. Ian is learning that, I hope. He is certainly into the transitional years. We don’t have to slap his hand anymore when he touches things he’s not supposed to. 🙂 I so badly want him to understand that just like God’s love is not conditional upon our obedience to Him, that my love will not be withheld for any of Ian’s wrong choices. What a fine line that seems to be.
And yet, after an evening with just Dad and the three kids, I think they get it. We have had some discipline issues today, but the prayers at the end of the night all flowed with big thank yous to God for a night with just Dad. They love me. 🙂 And best of all, they know I love them. I really, really do.
Please know tonight that you are loved. Not because of what you do. Not at all. Just because of who you are. God loves our victories and cheers our successes… but he doesn’t shun you when you mess up. Even a lot.
Oh that you might know how wide and long and high and deep is his love. It continues to rock my world.
I hope it forever will.