We play this game, my kids and I. A game of extravagant, one-upmanship designed to color in the vibrant shades of how we feel about it each other. We use our favorite word crayons, markers and finger paints to spell out our feelings:
I love you more than dump trucks.
I love you more than tractors.
I love you more than lions.
And the ultimate, ultimate: I love you more than chocolate milk.
We wrap our word love in tight monkey hugs around each other. We squeeze hard. And keep trying to out do each other in sheer volume and extravagance:
I love you more than airplanes.
I love you more than ice cream.
I love you more than the zoo.
I love you more than my bear.
The declarations come hard and fast and with each new one I watch as my kids fill up to the brim with this powerful and empowering word.
To be loved.
When last did you hear it? Did you believe it?
Why is this word so much easier for grown ups to give than to receive? I believe it when I say it to my kids. I believe it all the way down to my pinky toes then. I believe Jesus loves them and I know that I would step in front of a bus for them without a second thought. But when last did I receive that kind of love?
When did I actually accept it without trying to shrug it off with a counter offer of how unlovely I am?