While Patrick was away last week, the kids were really amazing.
They had a few rough patches, but over all, they tried hard, listened well, and didn't fight bedtime. They understood that there was only one parent, so they had to split their snuggling time and it was alright.
Tonight, though, they seemed unable to settle down. They wanted multiple snuggles and stories for ages. I hadn't been around most of the day, knocked flat on my back by my first ever case of vertigo (boo to THAT!), so they wanted more attention than I was feeling up to giving.
I was taking Sam and Vava upstairs for stories when Vava decided she wanted her tiny toy seal. We went back downstairs and looked but couldn't find it. Finally I said we would have to find him tomorrow and you'd think I'd reached into her chest and ripped her heart right out. I half-carried her upstairs and put her in bed. She threw herself right back out at me, howling. "BE NICE TO ME! LOVE ME!"
(Because, like her mama, she always demands love in the least lovely ways.)
I told her that I've loved her and have been nice to her since the day she was born, and she made it clear that she didn't believe me. (The words 'stinky butt butt' might have made their bold and fearsome appearance.)
It all depended on this one toy, this one moment. If I couldn't produce her seal, she couldn't see how I could ever have loved her.
And there was a deep sweet pointed laugh ringing from somewhere beyond the North Star that helped me remember feeling the same way.
I'm not much different from my sulky and saucy four-year-old daughter.
I, too, experience things that make me question whether God has ever loved me. And maybe they're less important than I think, maybe they're a little more like a toy seal and a little less representative of His constant heart. Things that could never compare with the ways He has shown His love to me, since long before I was born or thought of.
He loved me enough to make Christmas.
To wrap up His Son and decorate with a new star and send the first carolers a-singing.
To make Easter.
To send that Son to the cross to trade His righteousness for my sinfulness and make me His own.
He loves me that much.
He's always loved me.
As the calendar dwindles to its last few pages, Christian, maybe you're finding that 2016 didn't hold the treasures you'd hoped. Maybe the job you wanted, the relationship you wanted, the adventure you wanted didn't work out. Maybe somewhere in your heart something sullen asks 'if I'm your child, why aren't you being nice to me?'
Let Christmas whisper its assurance to your disappointment:
I have always loved you. I have loved you with an everlasting love. This, too, is my good gift.
And may you turn your eyes to Him until you see His everlasting love on that tree.
We have always been loved.
Merry Christmas, friends.