My fifteen-month-old daughter is not a cuddler. She would prefer not to be touched or bothered, thank you very much. If she is held at all, she prefers to be held facing out, taking in as much of the world as she can. She wants complete independence and does a VERY good job of asserting her demands. We joke that she could be a quarterback – or whatever guy it is that sticks his arm out and can block even the biggest attacker. She swings her tiny little arm with fierce determination and puts deliberate distance between herself and anyone who dares come near.
But when she is sick, she wants nothing else but to be held. She’ll toddle around, sniffing and rubbing her eyes, and then dive head first into my legs, crying to be picked up. She’ll nestle her head right under my chin, tuck her little arms in, and rest.
As much as I hate her being sick, the cuddles are just everything.
This past week she was sick, and I happened to catch sight of us in the mirror as she was taking a rare rest in my arms. My heart jumped at the image. As much as she likes to push me away, when she is in need she knows where to turn.
Of all the relationships, God chose to portray Himself as the Father and we as His children. I know that He must feel that same sense of delight when we come running to Him when we are at our lowest, when our needs are beyond our capabilities. But how much more would it mean if we stayed close to Him even when we didn’t feel like we “needed” Him? If we stopped trying to slip out of His embrace when our needs were met? If we stopped trying to do everything so independently with stiff arms clearing our own ways?
Being held when you’re sick is great, but being held simply out of love is even better.
Today I’m going to find my rest in Him. I’m going to dive in head first, tuck in my arms, and just be held.
My baby starts school next week, and I’m overflowing with all the emotions. Proud of the ways she is growing up. Excited for this new adventure for her. Eager to see her personality continue to form as she’s exposed to so many new things. Worried her sensitive heart might not be handled with care. Guilt that I haven’t been a good enough, present enough, fill-in-the-blank enough mom. Concerned about all the things she can and will be exposed to.
I know this is “just” preschool, but it is the very first step that she will take alone. For the first time, I will walk her to the door and then turn around and leave. And now, for the rest of her life, she will be discovering a whole new world that I am not a part of, nor do I control.
As much as she’s learning newfound independence and change, I have to figure out a new role, too. I don’t want this end of an era to pass by without marking it. I don’t want to have to learn how to trust God with my baby when she starts going home with friends or gets her permit or moves out. That’s too late.
So, as I’m learning to relinquish control, and as she is learning to take those brave steps alone, we turn to the Life Giver, the One Who holds the world in His hands.
God, give her the courage and strength and boldness to be her own person, apart from our walls of safety. Give me the strength and faith to allow her the space to grow beyond our walls.
God, give her a hedge of protection for her safety and innocence, but allow enough adversity to come her way so she can learn how to stand with her own two feet on the Rock of her salvation. Give me the wisdom to know when to step in and protect her from pain, but also when to stand by her side, direct her eyes to You, and allow her to learn from the disappointment.
God, give her an ear to hear Your truth more clearly than anything else competing for her attention. Give her a clear mind to separate facts from agendas, to separate truth from opinion, and to see Your hand working in it all. Give me the words to say when she comes asking me the hard questions.
God, give her a passion and heart for the hurt and lonely. Give her clear eyes to see the opportunities she will have to show Your love and light to her classmates. Give me opportunities to reach out to her teachers and the other parents, joining with her in spreading Your love.
God, give her the gift of understanding and a clear mind as she’s learning, but help her to not become obsessed with grades and performance. Give me the gift of encouragement as she navigates hard lessons and patience when she’s had enough.
God, give her an even greater sense of Your presence when she’s alone. Give me an even greater sense of Your peace when she’s not with me.
God, I rest in the knowledge that You have called her to be salt and light to this world. What is salt if it is not applied? What is light if there were no darkness to illuminate? I pray she adds salt to every conversation, every recess, every confrontation. I pray she adds light to every agenda, every influence, and every situation that was meant for evil.
… And God, please help her wake up in a better mood in the mornings because mama don’t have time for that.