“Who forgot the napkins…and the drinks?” asked my three-year old son.
Lunchtime around our house is hectic. With regular consistency, I forget the napkins or the beverages. Seriously. With regular consistency. Hence, now my children sing their question in mockery at each meal. You’d think I’d learn!
“Oh, sweetie. Let me get that for you…” I said, doling out the napkins to everyone.
“Mom, I want apple jucie!”
“Sorry, sweetie. We’re out of apple juice. These are your choices,” I tried to explain.
Before I could even let him know what his options were, he was screaming at me with a red face and down-turned mouth, “I hate you! I am so angry with you! On your birthday, I hope you die and go to heaven.”
He’s three. It’s apple juice.
Tantrums detonate pretty often these days. Coupled with him learning about the permanent nature of death and about personal insults, he’s managed to hurl these doozies my way.
“Well, I love mommy, and I don’t want her to die!” my daughter said as emphatically as her five-year old self could muster.
Instead of feeling the warmth and the depth of her expression of love for me, my mind still clung to the death sentence my son pronounced upon me.
Cognitively, I recognize that my son’s words stirred up annoyance and anger within me, but I also perceived an unhealthy pattern of my heart.
Growing up I heard the words, “I love you” frequently. My heart, however, deflected the penetrating power to transform, heal, and revitalize my personhood.
After all, isn’t that what love does? Transforms, heals, and imbues new life and vitality?
When a little heart suffers pain at the very core of their heart and personhood—whatever form of abuse, loss, neglect—self-protection dominates all else, including the integral need for love.
Again, I marvel at how much I have softened, by God’s grace, and how my Savior taught me—one-by-one—to let people in.
As I read through chapter four “The Vision” in The Respect Dare, you can imagine how startled I was to hear the Lord dare me to let my husband, my children into my heart…a little deeper. To let them know me a little more.
Such exposure frightens me.
So much shame still lingers within my heart.
More than all else in this world, I desire the powerful, transformative love of the Spirit of Christ be unleashed in and through me, my marriage, my parenting.
O, Lord. Produce in me that which I could not create on my own by taking me to places I’d rather not go, including the depths of my very own heart.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51.10).
Even as I forget the napkins and beverages at the next meal.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to open my heart to my husband. My husband loves me and has my best interest at heart. He is not perfect, so I will trust The Perfect One to lead me to explore the depths of His love.
What’s your next step?
How’s your love vision? In your heart-of-hearts, do you feel that you allow yourself to love others fully or to receive their love freely? What obstacles or past patterns prevent you from experiencing this kind of love? Our Jesus asks us to love one another deeply and through Him and in His strength. Won’t you ask Him—the One who loves you so much that He died for you—how you might love more fully, deeply, freely?