How to absolutely delight in your children

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That squishy kind of love.

I want to be one of those mamas who can’t stop giggling at her children.

I want to be the mom who loves to watch them, loves to dance with them, loves to sing along to their made-up songs, and hides around the corner of the room to watch them jabber to themselves, or to catch a glimpse of a sweet sibling moment.

I want to be the mom who runs to greet my sweet ones in the morning, and throws my arms around them.  I want to soak up the late night chats and smile often.  I want to live interruptible to their requests and questions and needs for band-aids.  I want to watch their goofy antics with the attitude of “Show me again!” and not “Hurry up.”   I want to hang their pictures on my bathroom mirror, and wear the macaroni necklace they made me.

I want to be the mom who tells them daily what makes them unique, and reminds them often about the beautiful purposes they were made for.  I want to be the mom who lingers in evening prayers because I just like the sound of their names lifted to heaven.  I want my love to pour out uninhibited, even in the ugliest moments.  I want truth and shepherding, discipline and accountability to flow gently and lovingly from a place of  unwavering love and affection.

Guys, I want to be the mom who loves summer.   I really do.  I want to be the mama who can’t get enough of my children.  I want it because I believe it will make them world changers.  I want it because I believe this love will be a launching pad for them, and I want to usher them into the boundless love of God.

I want to love a little more like a spunky little daughter of mine, with bouncy curls, boundless affection, and radiant joy.

Residing in the tiny chest of my three-year-old daughter is this heart that is reckless and free, unbound and bursting with all things beautiful.  Perhaps you have a child like this one, who loves with a shameless love that spills all over the place, without concern for the mess.  She is fearless and uninhibited.  Daring and brave.  Her heart is always spilling and never pulling back because it can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be loved back.

It’s the kind of love with which our deepest hollow places ache to be filled, but that starts to leak the first time we get hurt, rejected or ridiculed.

This little daughter of mine begins her days with hopeful anticipation of which friends she might see, and how many new ones she might make.  She has a curious habit of walking up to strangers and saying “Hi.  I like your face.”  She regularly invites people of all ages to have a “chat” with her.  And she often grabs my face and tells me that she thinks I’m cute, and she never ever wants to let go.

I learn more about the wildly unrestrained love of God from this child, than I could from a library of books on the subject.  It’s just not the kind of love our tattered and worn hearts dare to imagine.

Those of us with a few more years behind us tend to look on little children with fearless love, and think it sweet, but we generally assume they will grow out of it.  As they begin to see that the world isn’t so warm and fuzzy, they will tighten up the reins on their affections.

But I have to wonder if this is one of those things we “gain” through the years of our lives, which isn’t really wisdom or maturity, so much as damage to hearts that were meant to love without fear.  

Maybe these little ones have a purer understanding of the love of God that we’re meant to know, because their image of it has not yet been tainted.  And maybe true wisdom is to heed the words of Jesus to be a little more like them…in their humility, in their openness, in their receiving and relying on Love.

1 John 4: 16-18 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

Matthew 11: 25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

There is NO fear in love.

Reckless love flows from deep within a heart well-loved.  A young child who has never had reason to doubt that they are loved, has no reason to hold their love back from others.  When they have felt cared for and delighted in, relationships hold possibility, hope, and excitement.  This, of course, is not true for a child who has not received love and care, and often ceases to be true when relationships get messy, and hurt and fear and insecurity enter in.

So how do we convince our shattered hearts to stop being afraid?  How do we love freely and fearlessly once again, or for the first time?  How do we become the mamas who can’t stop our ferocious love and pure delight from pouring out on our children?

Be the loved child.

Be the loved child.

Be the Delighted-in, Believed-in, Beloved one who can’t imagine not being loved back, because she is simply drowning in the ferocious love of her Heavenly Father.

Friend, this is our identity and our destiny.

You ARE the loved child of God who can love without fear!

I have had seasons of feeling so frustrated and short-fused with my children, not wanting to be merciful with their bad attitudes and misbehavior.  I have had seasons of feeling disconnected from their hearts, and resenting them for being unhelpful or disrespectful or needy.  I have had these days when I look at my heart and see coldness and pride, and wonder what happened to my mother’s heart of pure adoration for my children.  I cycled in and out of days like this, blaming it on sleep deprivation or just a bad day…until I had this troubling and beautiful realization…

If a child loved well by parents loves readily, than a loved “Child” of God (at any age) ought to love all the more freely.  If I know God’s love and delight, than love and delight ought to be pouring out of me, especially onto my own children.

And I am finding this to be true.  When I spend time letting God tell me what he thinks of me, the coldness falls off of my heart.  When I let God tell me that he is pleased, my critical spirit melts away.  When I let myself look into God’s delighting eyes, I catch a glimpse of his pure eyes for those around me.  When I live like the loved child of God that I am, love comes easy.

Be the loved child and you won’t be able to stop the love from springing out of your overflowing heart.  

Whatever parenting challenge you are facing today, start here:  God loves you, sister, and takes great delight in you.  In Christ, God’s love and affection, mercy and grace, are yours.  His smiling eyes are on you, longing to pour out his compassion, longing to hold you and bind up your broken heart.  He longs to carry your burdens, and renew your strength.  He longs to tell you how he knit you together, and calls you his masterpiece, how he knows every hair on your head, and catches your every tear in a bottle.

If we know we are fully loved, we can love like our hearts have never been bruised.  The “Delighted In” cannot help but love with grace, with truth, with reckless abandon.

So, if you’re wondering today how to love your family like you’ve never dreamed possible, first, be loved beyond your wildest imagination by a Father God who calls you “My delight is in her.” (Isaiah 62: 4)

 

Psalm 149: 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

Zephaniah 3: 17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Jeremiah 31: 3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

2 thoughts on “How to absolutely delight in your children

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