As I drove my youngest to school a few weeks ago, we were having an unusually smooth and cheery morning. We exchanged polite and kind words, giving us an in-the-moment closeness and fondness for one another.
Halfway there, I said, “You know, why don’t we just turn around and go have a cuddling day at home. That’s all we’ll do is snuggle. I’m sure your teachers will understand.” I had a huge grin on my face just imagining it.
She said, “No, you wouldn’t do that.”
“Sure I would, just this once.” I looked in the rearview mirror and she wasn’t grinning like me.
“No, I know you wouldn’t, because you’ve never done that on any of my other days off or in the summer.”
My smile disappeared. She had me. That doesn’t mean I don’t cuddle with her…it means that she knows there’s a limit, that I hold back something short of my all. She didn’t say those words spitefully, they rolled off her tongue matter-of-factly. She knows my shortcomings and accepts them best she can. That just made me want to pull over and yank her into my arms right then and there to prove her wrong. To prove me different. The Lord knows I’ve tried.
I’m an incredibly good discipler-mom. I know how to encourage my kids and draw them into good conversations. I’m pretty transparent and easily admit my shortcomings and ask for forgiveness when I mess up. Thankful God has given me those strengths, and I try to be faithful with them. But I’ve always had intimacy issues, and it’s hard to admit that I often struggle to initiate and demonstrate the deep affection and nearness that my kids, especially my daughters, long for.
It doesn’t stop with them. My husband recognizes it, my sister, my closest friends. And they also know I’ve prayed about it for several years, little by little giving way to the Lord’s way in this area. It’s required an intimate abiding with my Heavenly Papa first, forgiveness and acceptance of the abuse and neglect in my past, as well as a slowing down of my tendency to be busy and doing and serving and striving. Among other things, but those are where healing began.
And I want to continue, because I deeply desire to love the way God’s Word instructs:
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living & enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)
None of the struggles from my past, whether many years ago or yesterday, define me. I’m born again through the living and enduring Word of God. That just sets me free and makes me wanna continue the process of God’s change in me that much more.
I can disciple and teach and encourage my family (and friends) all the day long, but if I don’t love them deeply and intimately…intentionally and passionately…then it cheapens all those other strengths, confuses them even. That’s yet more reason that I will continue to embrace God’s call to love the people He’s put in my life, deeply so. He doesn’t ask me to do anything that He hasn’t already done himself.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:16-19
It doesn’t get any more intimate than that. That’s the way I want to love my children, His children, family, friends and everyone He puts in my life to love. I can do so, one step at a time with His help. And when I fall short, I’m grateful…ecstatic to know that the Lord’s love will never fail, and His is the one true love that can and is always willing to meet all of our needs in the deepest parts of our hearts. So may all of our efforts toward deep, intimate lovin’ always point to Him.
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded & self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet 4:7-8
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