Recently at home two of us adults were talking in private with a child to solve a disciplinary issue. The child sat on a seat in front of us, arms crossed, their little brow furrowed, stealing glances at the two of us while their gaze remained otherwise fixed on their feet dangling in front of them. To see the child in such a closed, stand-offish position truly was an ugly site to see. After a long discussion, praying together, and the assignment of a punishment, we concluded the time with the child by talking about Christ’s love for us and our love for the child. The disciplinary issue was mainly between the child and me, so the other adult talked about how a parent’s discipline for their child stems out of their immense love for them. The child, still avoiding any kind of emotional connection, continued studying their swaying feet. When asked if the child was certain of my love for them, the child stubbornly shook their head ‘no’ and said that I do not, in fact, love them.
My eyes grew wide and my heart sank, feelings of devastation and a fiery tinge of anger welling up inside me as I thought, “How on earth can you say that I don’t love you? Do you not realize I’ve given my life for you – ¨
And in that moment my thoughts took an immediate detour as I heard Christ’s words perhaps more distinctly than ever before. “I have given my life for you. And how many times do you, Jennifer, question my love, behaving like this stubborn, narrow-minded child? Accept my love – believe that I love you abundantly, just as you wish that your children would believe of you.”
My heart sank even more, my devastation at the child’s remark turned into the cutting realization of my own hardness. I then turned in inward repentance to my savior, confessing, “I will believe you, Lord. I will not question your character and love.” Peace and a newfound understanding and acceptance for Christ’s love flooded my body.
A couple days later, things having long been smoothed over with the upset child but still without any open admittance of my love for them, the child and I rode in one of Honduras’ public buses on our way to town, the child comfortably nested in my lap as we both enjoyed the view our window seat provided of vast pineapple fields, the mountain range that marks the landscape, and small shops and restaurants along the way. I felt in my heart that the issue was still unresolved for me – is the child convinced of my love and only said otherwise in an outburst of rebellion and anger, or do they truly feel that I do not love them? I whispered their name, and immediately an eager young face peeked up at me, and I asked gently, “You know that I love you, right?” And without delay their little head bobbed up and down and I heard their confident reply, “Yes.”
My heart sighed with relief and thanksgiving, and I felt a tangible sense of peace and unity borne between the two of us as we settled in for the ride to town. As the child sat wrapped in my embrace, I felt the two of us enveloped in that of the Father’s.