Our oldest son, Jackson, lives life LARGE. Each morning he wakes up raring to go take a big, joyful BITE out of life!
- Jackson: Where does honey come from, mama?
- Mama: Bees make honey
- J: No, mama, they don’t
- M: Yes, Jackson, bees do make honey
- J: No, mama, bees can’t make honey; they don’t have arms!
How limited your knowledge of livestock and their technology needs is:
- J: Farmers need phones, mama!
- M: Why Jackson?
- J: Farmers gotta make calls
- M: Who do farmers need to call?
- J: COWS!
How all consuming a boy’s passion can be for farm animals:
- Mama: I LOVE you, Jackson
- Jackson: (pausing, sighs deeply with what his mother mistakenly believes is his blissful contentment at being her son, before he declares with equal fervor)
“I LOVE COWS!”
How well thought out a cowboy’s reasoning can be:
- (while waiting in line at a petting zoo for Jackson’s turn to ride the pony)
- Mama: Do you want to go and look at the sheep first, while we wait for this line to get shorter?
- Jackson: (with shock at his mother’s simple-mindedness) Mama, you can’t ride sheeps!
How the innocent and intuitive love of a child can take your breath away with its beauty:
- (while curled up on the bed together watching a show about a couple who were getting married)
- Jackson: What’s “married” mama?
- Mama: It’s when 2 people love each other very much and want to be together for ever
- Jackson: I be married with YOU, mama! (followed by a big bear hug)
But we are also learning that this kind of lavishly expressed love ebbs and flows with the growth cycles kids go through. And the most important lesson we are learning is how to respond when it unexpectedly ebbs:
- Jackson: (in the car one night after Christmas, he declares out of the blue)
I DON’T love you, mama
- Peter: Whaattttt? You don’t talk to your mother like that, I, you …….
- Mama:(cutting in, remarkably quite calm, still awestruck at the Christmas she has just celebrated that marks one whole year with new baby Micah and always evokes comparisons to what it might have been like for that other young mother whose son is the reason we have Christmas. I wonder how Mary might have felt at the one year mark. I imagine she must have treasured the baby years especially in light of what had been prophesied about her baby’s grown up destiny.)
- Jack, you know what? It doesn’t matter if you say you don’t love me. Because you know what, honey. I love you even when you don’t love me. I love you ALL the time.I love you when you are mad and I love you when you are happy. I love you when you are crying and I love you when you are laughing. I love you even when you are grumpy and mean. I love you all the time, no matter how you feel about me or what you say. That’s what it means to be a mama.And you know why I love you like that, my baby? Because that’s how Jesus loves me. He loved me first. He taught me that being a parent means loving the baby before he can love back and then, one day, still loving your big boy even when he says he doesn’t love you. And because Jesus loves me like that, I’m gonna work hard to love you like that your whole life long.
As I said, having kids is teaching us all kinds of things that we thought we already knew, but only now are really beginning to understand:
John 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 8 verses 7-8 “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Moody, mad or messed up – there is a God that loves us consistently with a crazy love that defies reason or explanation. A love that is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it isn’t proud. It isn’t rude, it isn’t selfish, it isn’t irritable. A love that keeps no record of wrongs and rejoices in the truth. A love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. A Love that never fails, never quits, never gives up on us. No matter how we feel. No matter how we act.
What a relief. To know, I am loved. No. Matter. What.
(You, too, you know)
And from watching Jackson’s stunned change in attitude that night, I can testify that the security of that knowledge makes all the difference.