My daughter says to me today, “Mommy, you love me even when I do naughty things right?” She says this because I tell her this daily. I remind her as I put her to bed each night that I will always love her, no matter what. She’s in a phase where she says she’s going to run away and not be our Thea anymore. I tell her that isn’t possible. (We also read her the Runaway Bunny and Wherever You Go, My Love Will Find You). She will always be my Thea. Then she smiles and goes back to playing.
Years ago, when I was volunteering at a drug rehab in the UK, one of the women living and working there shared a story. She was running errands and praying as she walked. She said to God, “Father, I really want to know if you are pleased with me? Could you show me somehow?” As she turned the corner a dove landed on the sidewalk in front of her and she heard the verse Matthew 3:17, paraphrased. “This is my daughter in whom I am well-pleased.”
Thomas Merton said that we must accept that we will never be more than beginners when it comes to prayer and I think the sentiment applies to all aspects of our journey of faith. I still want my Father’s approval. While I love my earthly parents and part of me still needs their approval, even more I want my heavenly Father’s approval. So much of the time I feel as though I’m just stumbling through life trying to make the right decisions and hoping for the best. I pray and ask for guidance and sometimes receive obvious answers. Other times I just use my common sense, hold my breath and jump.
But most days, I am that little girl, asking if I’m still loved, even when I know I’ve made mistakes. Some days I feel as though I am the chief of sinners. I am impatient, angry, and sometimes an intellectual elitist. I extend judgment before love and justice before mercy. Before anyone jumps in to make me feel better, don’t. I don’t want to feel better. I want to be better. I thought I would be so much further along at this point in my life. But I’m not. I’m struggling like everyone else. I want to be the one to provide answers to others; supporting and comforting. But I’m still slogging through the trenches, feeling left behind as others soar on to new heights.
I know in my head that I am loved. I know my husband loves me too, but I still like to hear him say it, receive gifts and have him make me feel special. I know that every day is a gift from God, and I have many blessings, but I want affirmation. Is this wrong, proud or selfish? I don’t know. Is it selfish when my daughter asks me if I love her? (Even if I just told her so an hour before). Is it wrong that she wants assurance that she will be always loved even when she disobeys?
I am no different. In my heart I am just asking my Father, tell me you still love me. I know that you do, but some days
I need to hear it again. I know that I make mistakes and that my focus is often on meaningless earthly things. I want to be more like you, but I’m so tired. I’m afraid I can’t do the work, that I can’t make the changes that you are asking of me. Will you help me?
So I hug my daughter again. Tell her she’s loved and I fall into bed praying for grace. Grace for the next minute, the next hour. Grace like oxygen that fills and sustains me, keeps me going, keeps me whole. I need thee every hour..