Parenting Spiritual Growth

A Father’s Love

He stares up at me with the big brown eyes that capture every inch of my heart and says, “Mommy, I love you.”  I sweep him up into my arms and hold him tight, aware that every moment is slipping by faster than I would like and I want to savor this child like a sweet ice cream on a hot August day.  Something has shifted in me.  My dear friend said it.  She sent me a text that said, “I see a change in you … you have this calm about you … you are so free – calm, yet confident in what you need to do.”  It’s true.  Love is continuing to do its work – the work of transforming, the work of freeing.

Love.  That was my word for this year.  I prayed over it and chose it carefully.  I blogged about it as so many bloggers do when they find their word for the year.  Then I found myself missing the mark {of course} and that drove me deeper.  I relentlessly pursued love.  I determined to cut back until I made room enough to be available for Love.  I read “The Best Yes” and it prompted me further into paring down, scaling back, choosing well.  I revisited “Finding Spiritual Whitespace” and I remembered Shalom – the peace He longs to give me – peace that comes from wholenesss – wholeness that comes from finding my home in Him

just as I am.

Somewhere along the line something has slipped away and something else has taken its place – like a shifting of two pieces of silk gliding across one another.  My anxiety and need to control has drifted off and this calm interior has grown up in me stronger than ever.  I’m just more okay.  The best part of it is that I know it wasn’t me doing the shifting.  I’m almost an observer to my own sanctification at times.

T.S. Eliot said “God breathes through us so completely, so gently, we barely feel it.”  That’s it.  

This friend of mine has a daughter.  When she dances ballet, her little five-year-old hands make these graceful movements that take your breath away and make you feel the world is alright in just that moment.  She twirls and flits around with a sheer love of dance and all things fine and beautiful.  Because she is completely in the dance she takes you with her.  Her father, the professional photographer, beams with pride as he captures every nuance of her performance with not one, but three cameras strategically placed around the auditorium.  He edits the film of her dance when they get home and puts it up on Facebook for the world to see with the caption, “I’m so proud.”

It was then it hit me – a father’s love is like that.

He loves her with his being and everything about him is focused on capturing all that she is doing.  He was proud of her before she ever set foot on stage – because a father’s love isn’t about our performances.  He loves her as is.  He doesn’t want to miss one heartbeat.  Willing to make a display of himself for her sake, he ensures that he catches it all, soaks it in, documents it and shares it with everyone: “This is my daughter!  I love her!  I’m so proud of her!”

You get it, don’t you, how our Father loves.  He captures the moments of your life.  He hones in on them as though you were alone on a stage, dancing your dance.  He doesn’t want to miss a single second.  He wants to take you in and then He wants to show you off with great pride – not because of what you have done, but because He loves you so – with a Daddy love – just because you are His.  You aren’t lost in the crowd.  You are singled out in His heart.  He just can’t get enough of you.

Maybe your past is a bit like mine and your father wasn’t able to reflect the consistency and safety that God extends to us.  Maybe your father was absent or abusive or neglectful or critical or just wanted you to be more than was reasonable.  Maybe your father was exactly what you wanted, but he wasn’t what your mother wanted, so you ended up torn in two between parents who couldn’t solve their differences.  When we live through human failures, we tend to lose sight of the pure goodness of God’s love.  God starts to feel like He is an extension of our parents – broken, distant, uncaring, rejecting, demanding and even dangerous.  How can we turn to a God like that?  How can we not?  If we know He is God, we know we have no alternative but to follow Him.  If we fear He is cruel, rejecting or unpredictable, we have no option but to try to appease Him while keeping a safe distance.  We offer sacrifice but we dare not truly draw near.

I lived like that for years in my faith walk – coming close and then pulling back – leaning on myself for the harder things because leaning on Jesus seemed a bit too risky.  I kept the faith by going through the motions while my heart was divided.  I wanted connection, but feared rejection.

Yet it was for freedom that He set us free.  He simply won’t settle for less.  We are settlers.  We are often willing to accept “good enough” rather than go through the hard places, feel the painful feelings and dig deeper into our longing for Him.  What if we cry out for Him and He never quenches that thirst?   Sitting back seems safer than risking.  We can live like that – running the Christian habitrail – Going to church, reading our Bibles, praying the prayers, serving in ministry after ministry … yet never drawing near enough to find out if He is really, really good.  We keep the rules, but we neglect Him in the process

We can get on in this way, but He can not.  He died for our intimacy and He will patiently woo us into love with Him.  That’s my story.  It’s unfolding as we speak.  I’m learning to allow release.  I’m learning to risk.  I’m learning to do more than hope that He is setting up three cameras to catch my every move, all the while, He is not so far away as He cheers, “There she is!  That’s my daughter!  Look at her!”

What if He’s savoring me – like I’m savoring my sweet son.

Perhaps forever isn’t nearly long enough to experience all the love we have to receive and give.
Maybe forever starts right now – as is – broken, imperfect and fully loved.  
Love is my word for the year.  I’ll miss the mark, but He never will

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Where are you today in the middle of this love story?  Are you coming to know His love more fully?  Or do you still fear He may leave you, judge you or reject you?  Have you risked getting closer?  Do you ache with longing for more of Him?  Please share here or on my Facebook Page or send me a private message if it feels too vulnerable to post a response …
Let’s encourage one another as we walk through what blocks us from greater intimacy, growth and freedom in Him. 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Barbie
    February 25, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    Patty, this is absolutely beautiful. I've struggled with knowing my Father's love, the deep knowing. When my life is messy and I miss the mark, it makes me feel unloveable. I am thankful His love for me is constant. I LOVE your scripture art!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    February 25, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Thanks, Barbie,
    You are a kindred for sure. It has been a blessing to pray for you, even though it is hard times that often draw us into prayer. The scripture art is so fun! I've been a bit critical of it at times, but just let that go as best I can and enjoy connecting to Him through it. I know you relate to creating art in response to His prompting in worship. I've just never done anything like this and it is spurring my intimacy with Him so sweetly. Love you.

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