I'm going to use rather common metaphors to illustrate some revelations God has been slowly working into my consciousness. I hate over-used imagery, but it's what He's doing so here it is.
This morning, my three-year-old daughter Lilian strolled into my bedroom at 5:30.
Did you catch that? 5:30. In the morning!
We normally wake up around 7 so I was, naturally, concerned. What in the blankety-blank could she want at such an ungodly hour?
It turns out her need for me was legitimate. There was a potty issue and a "my back hurts" issue and who knows what else. It was pre-dawn, people; I had a hard time focusing. Needless to say, I tended to her needs with bleary eyes and then pulled her into bed with me, shushing her so that she wouldn't wake up Big Brother (down the hall) or Daddy (one pillow over). I informed her of the task at hand in one simple word: "sleep."
She's three, and she was up, so sleep was most definitely not her top priority. But being with me was. When I tried to get her to go back to her own bed, being way too tired to get up and carry her there myself, she politely refused, opting instead to snuggle under Mommy & Daddy's covers and pretend to sleep just so that she could be near us.
I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next thirty minutes until I finally rolled my you-know-what out of bed, but in my half-awake state I noticed one, simple thing.
My daughter has to be touching me.
Constantly. Preferably with as much of her body as she can. Arms, legs, fingertips, noses, torsos...you name it, she crushed it up against me. I was tickled, patted, snuggled, held, combed...you get the picture. When I turned away from her (I was tired people! Cut me some slack!), she would immediately snuggle up close and throw her arms around me, her tiny limb barely making over my mountain of a profile.
Even in my tired state, I thought, "that's pretty adorable."
And I also thought: "she sure knows how to get her needs met, doesn't she?"
This is something I've often thought about Lily. If she needs something, she goes and gets it. If she can't, then she'll either figure it out or find someone who can help her.
Gunnar, my four-year-old son, also has no problem expressing his needs and wants. He's just a little more dependent when it comes to getting them met. He wants Mommy to do it for him, more often than not (thought that's changing as he gets older), but not Lily. She's been like this since she was a baby. A laid back, low key, get-her-done type of gal. I really like that about her.
While I've reflected on this aspect of her personality a lot, I had yet to extrapolate to a greater truth. Until this morning. In the pre-dawn hours. In my half-awake state. In that moment, it hit me:
Children never apologize for their needs or wants.
And they never hesitate to ask me to meet or fulfill them.
Obviously, this made me think of God. Am I that childlike with my Father? Do I do whatever it takes to get close to Him, snuggling into the nooks and crannies of His frame with unashamed abandon?
But more than thinking of God, Lily's snuggles made me think of my human relationships. It takes trust to put your needs and wants out there, to feel safe enough to express them without fearing reprisal.
My children don't think I'll make fun of them or deny them out of spite. They expect me to take care of them. What's more, they expect me to want to.
Do I expect the same of the people that love me, the people I love? Am I willing to be so open that I am not self-conscious in how I relate to them?
I know I'm not. I'm way too afraid. What will they think of me? Will they hate me, find me needy and annoying, think I'm self-centered, and, ultimately, grow so weary of taking care of me that they leave, in the name of something big and adult like 'boundaries'?*
Or will they - will I - love with abandon in a way that makes me go to the Lord to find the energy I need to give to those who need it?
I'm in a process with this. Not sure exactly where I'll land, if anywhere. It will probably continue to be a process. But I know this morning's tangible picture of Lily smashed up against my backside with her arm thrown over my shoulder won't soon leave me. When the time comes, and I really need it, will I be able to smash myself up against a friend or family member, giving and receiving love with all of myself? I can only hope so.
*Just a quick note to clarify: I definitely believe in boundaries. We need to be able to self-love in order to love outwardly. But I also think we often put up too many roadblocks to authenticity and that, sometimes, we could use a little abandon where the boundary walls have become too thick.
Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today, because it's Tuesday. :)