Back in the day, my then young son would repeatedly ask me, “Do you still love me?” Granted, this was after some kind of misbehavior and some kind of “losing it” that I displayed. Shouting, screaming. Wondering why kids just can’t simply behave. I did all the things that parents probably shouldn’t do. Before kids, I remember witnessing moms losing it (maybe even smacking their children) in the grocery store while their kids were throwing tantrums. So public! So embarrassing. I said to myself, “I’ll never do that!” Of course, I would eat my words later.
“Just say, yes ma’am, and do it!” was my favorite phrase during my child- raising years, and I dreamed that my kids would just say “Yes ma’am” and actually do what I asked. Fat chance. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that I routinely overlooked the part of the job where parents are supposed to persuade their children that blatant misbehavior does not negate their love. That love is unconditional. That I would stand in front of an oncoming train to protect my kids. But, apparently that assurance of love was questionable in many cases. Either because of my lack of patience or my projected feeling that their misbehavior was a personal affront to me.
The little “Count Your Blessings” heart was actually given to me by my young son, I imagine for a Mother’s Day gift, but I didn’t keep the best records back then. Even this little treasure begged the question, “Do you still love me?” I’m pretty sure that my messaging was unclear, and at best, advanced a performance-based approach to life that continues to plague and uproot grace.
All I can say is – I prayed a lot when the kids were young. Through mistakes and traumatic scenes. Always asking God how I got myself into this intense parenting thing? Especially when everybody else made it look so easy? And how could I fix them into perfectly behaved little people? Was there a way? I surely wanted to find it.
Well, God’s answer to my prayer was that He was trying to fix me! Through and through. Yes, He was using my family, my children, to sanctify me and make me whole. Wish I had known early on. I would have preferred an easier route. After all, I was a first born achiever who fancied myself in control of outcomes. Oh no. OH NO! Instead, this was God’s priority for me – I Thessalonians 5:23 “May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Taking time to count your blessings is the antidote for insecurity. So, I’m counting my blessings now. The blessings of three beautiful children who were gifts from God to me. The blessings of three beautiful, but wildly different personalities that God used to get my attention. The blessings of three beautiful souls that, by God’s grace, call Him their Heavenly Father. The blessings of three beautiful thinkers that challenge me with their provocative ideas. The blessings of three beautiful influencers who are passing on the heritage of faith in Jesus Christ to their children. Talk about blessings. There is no argument here!
It is God Who is in control of outcomes. Genesis 49:25-26a says, “Because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with the blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, the the bounty of the age-old hills…”
My prayer is that my grandchildren will feel the deep assurance of first, God’s unconditional love, and then their parents’ unconditional love. No matter what the circumstances are. Including outright rebellion. Including wayward seasons. Including the small little foxes that spoil the vine. Including the unsettling or careless remarks that can’t be taken back. Including the most repeated word in the English language – “NO!” And, that the answer to “Do you still love me?” will always be an emphatic YES because of the love of Christ made manifest in their families.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”