Her hug was no different than usual, her tanned arms and spindly legs wrapped around my neck and waist like summer vines. It was her words that surprised me this time.
Jenessa had always said “I love you” as sweet as a grape popsicle when she hugged Kevin or me, parroting the words we’d told her since she was born 4 ½ years ago. They were the same words we’d spoken to our own two kids, words every child deserves to hear frequently. But this time as she snuggled against my neck she said confidently, “You love me.”
“Yes, I do!” I laughed, embracing her tighter. I was pleased that she felt secure enough to not ask me if I loved her, but tell me. Was she reassuring herself, or reminding me?
I had corrected her right and left for the last week while her 2-year-old brother, baby sister, mommy and daddy stayed with us for the week of Vacation Bible School. “Don’t tell me you want a banana; ask ‘may I please have one?’; “Swallow your food before you tell us something; we don’t want ‘see food’ at this table; “Sit still, Honey. I can’t read to you if you keep wiggling the book!”
But I’d also cuddled and kissed & teased her. I played in the sandbox with her in the blistering heat. I watched endless episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and read countless ‘widawary’ books. I even shared my favorite Schwann’s frozen yogurt with her! So she took my correction in stride, knowing that my love was the supreme motive for everything I did.
God corrects us, sometimes more than we like. Perhaps He convicts us when we think poorly of someone, have a stinky attitude, even when we’re hard on ourselves. He’s never harsh or unkind when His still, small voice whispers in our hearts, but we know He wants us to come up higher, so we’ll be happier.
Then there’s His fun, loving side. He makes our tomato and zucchini plants grow tons more than we’ll ever need, so we can have the joy of sharing. He sends us people who make us laugh when we’re in a tough situation, or lets us meet someone worse off than we are, so we’ll be thankful. He puts us in a family called a ‘church’ so we don’t have to bear our burdens all alone. His Holy Spirit to comfort us. His Word to renew our hope. His blood to forgive us. All proof that His supreme love is the motive behind everything He does. Even correcting us.
What else can we do but climb into His lap and tell Him, “You love me!”
9 years ago