I love you for who you are, not what you do

Bedtime seems to draw out the chatty side in my youngest son.  We go through our ritual of PJs and toothbrushing, followed by reading the Bible with Dad and then prayers of gratitude for our day.  Some nights we read a book.  Dad says, “I love you,” tucks him in with a kiss and leaves the room.  I sit on the edge of the bed, enjoying the experience of my son all snuggled under his blankets.  Just before drifting off, the discussion begins.

photo by Kaboompics

Deep Thoughts

Usually, the content isn’t light.  Some nights he has asked deep theological questions like, “Mom, if God knew Satan was going to fall and bring sin into the world, why didn’t he just stop him?”  Men debate these kinds of issues for years, well into graduate seminary.  I don’t have pat answers.  I listen to his thoughts and share mine, even when that includes the fact that I don’t know everything.

Reflecting on the Day

Tonight he started in about his piano recital.  He missed a note.  Honestly, he was adorable and the note was nothing.  It mattered to him.  I held my tongue as he said, “Mom, I hated my recital today.”  I asked why and he told me about the missed note.  My heart wanted to jump in and tell him, “It’s okay!  No one cares about your missed note.  They enjoyed the precious way you bowed after playing and the effort you put in to share your song and all the notes you got oh-so right.”

photo by clark young

I restrained myself.  I’ve missed notes before.  Worse than that, I’ve botched things big time in situations where it mattered way more.  The last thing I needed was someone telling me my missed note didn’t matter.  I simply said, “It’s tough when we feel we are prepared and we think we’re going to nail something and then it doesn’t go as we had hoped.”  He said, “yeah.”  Then I added, “You know, I love you the same whether you miss notes or not.  As a matter of fact, I’d love you if you never learned to play piano.  I’d love you no matter what you did.”  His response took me by surprise.  “Really, mom? Would you really love me, even if I never did anything good and I did everything bad?”  Whew.

How Do I Answer?

I paused and said, “I love you for who you are, not what you do.  When we do good things with what God put in us, it is a joy and it blesses others.  It is also a way to thank Him for the ability to use the gift or talent.  But, God doesn’t love you more or less based on whether you use your gifts and I sure don’t either.  I love you as much as I ever will.  You can’t add more love to what I have for you”.  His voice had a soft smile to it as he drowsily said, “Thanks, Mom.”

photo by sebastian pichler

Loved As Is

I never knew my son had lurking ideas about whether he was loved for being instead of doing.  Having grown up in a highly performance-oriented family where my talents and intelligence felt like my identity, I have worked hard to make sure my boys know my love is as unconditional as human love can be.  I might not be pleased with their behavior at times, but I’m always on their team.  My love doesn’t fluctuate with their moods or actions.

This conversation made me think about love and how easy it can be to assure a child of our commitment to them.  I haven’t always been as intentional as I would like about stopping to listen so I can hear what is rattling around in my children’s heads.  I’m so grateful that I sit on the edge of that bed every night and allow these many colored conversations to unfold between us.  I know my children better because of the simple act of giving them my quiet, undivided attention. 

A New Resolve

I left this conversation convinced I need to echo that message until it feels like his own thought. 

You are loved for who you are, not what you do.  Nothing in the world can stop that love, change it, or diminish it. Click To Tweet

What mom couldn’t use a little inspiration to help her commit to loving more intentionally?  My mission is to bless you with regular encouragement.  I would love to send you my weekly letters, to let you be one of the first to know about my free courses, and to give you my free “Love Intentionally” Tip Sheet.  Sound good? 

Yes, Please!

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  • Reply
    March 20, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    So sweet and SO GOOD! What a beautiful picture of the way God loves us: for being, not doing. And that is what equips us to love others the same way. Thank you for the encouragement today!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2018 at 9:29 PM

      Jordan, Thank you so much for letting me know you were here and for your sweet affirmation. I’m looking forward to visiting your blog to read what you write.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2018 at 4:11 PM

    Awesome as always… I think I needed you as a mom coach 30 some years ago! Well, I guess I’ll have to take that up with God! I love that I have you in my life now!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2018 at 9:27 PM

      Christi, I’m so glad God caused our paths to cross – from the same hometown at that! I love when He sprinkles in a little something like that. I was actually praying for you on my commute today. Your encouragement is precious to me.

  • Reply
    March 22, 2018 at 4:29 PM

    We were just watching old home movies and one night (14 years ago, hard to believe that many years have passed) we recorded the bedtime routine. Three little boys ages 4, 6 and 8 and a rambunctious 1 year old girl were all winding down for the day and saying their prayers. I looked exhausted (but so young!). They were all so cute. I do remember always wanting to get them to bed so hubby and I could have some peace and quiet. Our favorite thing to do was ask, “What was the best part of your day?” After everyone had their turn… “What was the worst part of your day?” Those two questions always sparked funny or heartfelt conversations. The video made me want to go back and spend time with them at that age again. It made me want to tell every parent, “Don’t rush, enjoy it, savor every moment.” When you’re in the middle of it, it seems like you’ll be tucking them in forever, but before long they will off doing their own thing and you’ll yearn for those precious moments again.

    • Reply
      March 22, 2018 at 8:32 PM

      First of all, I love that you were watching old movies. We rarely do that and we SHOULD! The exhaustion of those young mothering days is so real. We so often wish we could go back to our younger selves and say, “slow down,” and “savor.” I love your ritual of what was the best part of your day and the worst part of your day. Our sweet friends do gratitude lists at the end of the day together – and they even did it when they were camping with us. It was precious to hear the little voices in the tent calling out their grateful words and praying to God with thanks. You are so very right about all of this. Let’s encourage those younger mamas to treasure these moments. Also, let’s treasure whatever we might miss later – there’s always something. Sure grateful for you.

  • Reply
    Rachel Lee
    May 4, 2018 at 10:13 AM

    Such great insight here, Patty! Man, my kids can ask some doozies too! (I’m like, go ask your father to explain that to you!) Lol I love how you responded to your son. I have to admit, I rarely answer like this. In fact, I’m not sure i even give it much thought, except to empathize and try to comfort. I will be thinking more on this from now on. You’re on to something rich here! 🙂

    • Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 4:54 PM

      Thank you, Rachel! You made me smile about sending the kids to dad: “Tag, you’re it, hun!” 😉 Empathy and comfort go miles, I think. Your children will remember that spirit from you for years to come. I’m grateful to be thinking through this with you.

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