Back and forth. Back and forth. The slow creak of our rocker strains under the weight of sleepy eyes. Just a little longer and…
Little boy fingers reach up and pat my face. His tiny voice breaks the stillness. Mommy. I always love you. My heart slips into a puddle on the floor.
This same scenario repeats. Several nights in a row. Mommy. I always love you.
It’s days later, and I’m driving to work. I hear his voice in my head. Mommy. I always love you. Those words swirl through my thoughts. And I stop. Realization hits.
He didn’t say will. No future tense. Just the present. But always the present.
There was no Mommy I’ll love you if…No conditions. No boundaries. Only grace. The beautiful grace a three-year old can bring. Because I’m the mom who will never live up to the expectations of her children. I’m the mom who wonders if I’ll ever be enough.
And yet, his words held no if. No, I’ll love you if…
- You play with me all day and never ignore me.
- You learn how to sew super hero capes and let me fly off couches.
- You cook my favorite dinner every night and never make me eat veggies again.
- You never forget to follow through on that thing I asked you to do for me.
- You always come to my school events and don’t go to work.
- You pick me up from preschool on time.
- You don’t mind getting splashed by water during bath time.
- You finish my amazing baby book. You’ve finally bought one, right?
- You practice hours on end with me as I try to catch a ball.
- You let me listen to every Laurie Berkner Band CD ever created.
Because in my humanness, I would fail these conditions—all the time. Shamefully, I do sometimes ignore my children. I don’t sew. There are days I am late to pick my boy up from school. I hate getting splashed during bath time. My daughter’s baby book will go unfinished and her brother will never have one.
But the love of my children is free. I can’t earn it.
My little boy doesn’t just love me if I do things for him. Nor does he remove his love when I fail. No. His forgiveness is swift. And his words: Mommy. I always love you, fall on me like sweet summer rain.
I am free.
Because isn’t that just like Jesus? There’s no promise of loving if…
Only this—I always love you. And the grace of our Savior rips through the sky and floods down, washing away the guilt.
The pressure to be perfect. The endless lists of have to’s. The straining. The striving. All of which press in, leaving me feeling defeated, beat-down, oppressed.
When really? There’s nothing I can do. I’ll never be enough on my own. I’ll fail my children. I’ll fail my husband. I’ll fail my Jesus. Because perfection is an ideal I can’t attain. No matter how hard I reach, the stars really are just too far away.
So where do the imperfect go? Where do I run when my inadequacies stare back at me from the faces of a nine-year old and a six-year old?
Into the arms of my Savior. I realize only in that space am I enough. I am enough to be loved by my Jesus. Just as I am. And I am only enough because He is enough. No conditions. No boundaries. Only grace poured out on the repentant heart.
My Jesus and I? With His arms wrapped tight, we rock back and forth. Back and forth. He whispers in my ear, I always love you.
I always love you.
I always love you.