Every once in awhile my daughter communicates to me that she doesn’t feel loved. She says, “I don’t feel like you love me” or asks, “Do you even love me?” When I say “Of course I love you Honey. So, so much;” she seems genuinely surprised to hear it. And it breaks my heart every time. I’m not sure if this is a normal five year old thing or an Ava thing. And honestly, sometimes I wonder if she’s being a bit manipulative. She knows this kind of talk stops me dead in my tracks. Nothing gets me crouched to her level more quickly; all tender-voiced, my full attention on her, dirty dishes abandoned in the sink.
Two nights ago she was crying as she expressed, yet again, that she wasn’t sure whether or not I loved her. It was also way past her bedtime, which could have caused the emotional break down, but I still left her room banging my head against the wall. How does this little girl possibly question my love for her? I’ve rearranged my entire life to love and serve her well. Nothing has gone untouched since she entered our lives five years ago. Nothing looks the same. It’s all about her now (and her little brother). All the time. I was getting a little edgy and panicky too. If this little thing truly doesn’t know whether or not I love her, I’m doing something terribly wrong. I’m failing miserably.
When I woke up the next morning I prayed, mostly out of desperation. “Lord, help me love this little girl in a way that speaks to her!” I heard God say “Teach her about MY love. Your love is important but it’s finite. My love is infinite, it never grows weary, it’s never distracted, it’s never frustrated, never tired. She’s too much for you sometimes. She’s never too much for me.”
The thought of getting to tell Ava about God’s love excited me. This is my jam: sharing God with others. You’d be surprised by how often this seminary graduate needs reminded that motherhood is ministry. See above in regards to “all I’ve given up.” My heart knows it but my head hasn’t ever been able to really get it. Sadly, I’ll probably grasp that concept the day they’re both in school and I go back to vocational ministry.
When Ava woke up that morning I got to tell her all about what God had spoken so clearly to me about His love for her. She sat, wide eyed, excited to hear of this unending love God had for her. Ministry. Later in the day she got to open an early birthday present from her Grandma and Grandpa Russell. It was this necklace.
As I read the words on the necklace to her I caught her eye and winked. She smiled back, knowing exactly what our secret language meant.
Later that night when I asked her to pick a book to be read at bedtime she brought me God Loves Me out of the hundreds of books on her bookshelf. I got to tell her that oftentimes God uses themes in our lives to teach us and that I was pretty sure God was trying to teach her all about His love for her. Ministry. After the book was read and I was tucking her in she surprised me when she cut our requisite cuddle time short. She cocked her little head to the side and said, “Mom, I think God’s still speaking to me… can you leave so I can listen to Him?” Gladly Baby Girl, gladly.