Last week a friend was talking about her daughter learning to say, “I love you.” She told about how exciting and cute it was. As a mom, hearing those words from your child are even better than the first time they say, “Mom” or “Mama” or “Mommy” or whatever they call you. And better yet is when they say it spontaneously because they just can’t help but to say it instead of simply parroting it back to you. Those are moments that we treasure.
On Sunday I almost missed an opportunity for my boys to tell me they love me. We were at A.C. Moore getting some craft stuff. At one point, I looked at my 7-year-old and he had something behind his back. He told me he wanted to buy something but I couldn’t see it. As a frugal, non-indulgent mom, I wanted to say no. But something told me to give him some money and let him go buy it. So, not even knowing the price, I gave him a ten and he headed to the register (walking backwards so I couldn’t see what he was holding). As we were in the van, he asked if I had a pen. I told him to wait until we got home and I gave him a sharpie. After a few secretive moments with his 5-year-old brother in their room, I was rewarded with this wooden heart:
It wasn’t my birthday, it wasn’t mother’s day, I didn’t even do anything particularly special. But he saw a heart and had a vision of how to tell me he loved me. There’s not many mothering moments that can top that feeling!
I used to wonder why God didn’t just make us love him. I mean it has to be hard to see the people you created, the people you love, the people you sacrificed your son for… turn away from you, reject you, despise you, hate you. Why didn’t he just made us like robots with no choice but to love Him? But then I became a Mom, and I heard my children say those awesome words, “I love you.” I heard them say those words because they meant them. And I knew. I knew why God gave us the choice.
There’s definitely a difference between your children saying, “I love you” because you say it to them and saying it because they really, really mean it. They love us because we have shown them what love is and they can’t help but respond to it. I think that’s what God was talking about when He said through the Apostle John, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
And God does love us. “Nothing can ever – no, not ever! – separate us from the Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love of God he showed us in Jesus!” (The Jesus Storybook Bible, 340)