Friday, May 9, 2014

I Will Always Love You

I Will Always Love You. 
I Will Always Love You. 
I Will Always Love You. 
I Will Always Love You.

The sign caught my eye as I raced through the aisles at Hobby Lobby.  These days, I don't do many things in slow motion.  Always on a schedule; always slightly behind the schedule; somewhat a slave to the schedule.  Yet this day, for some reason, I slowed down the half second it took for my eyes to focus on this sign:  I Will Always Love You.  The words repeated at least five times...over and over. If I wasn't also on a budget, I would have bought it on the spot.   I imagined the perfect place in my house for these simple words to hang:  the main level bathroom.  The continuously clogged, "MOOOOOM, the toilet's overflowing again," bathroom.  It gets the most traffic. All of my favorite people spend time hanging out in there.  I'd position the picture eye-level.   Eye-level from a sitting position, that is.

I have great teenagers.  But they are teenagers.  And they are figuring out life and contemplating their faith and wondering what's wrong with their parents and testing out their independence while still kind of wishing they were little kids.  The storms rage of turning into a man...I can't imagine.   Having never walked that road, I truly don't always understand and I don't pretend to.  Sometimes, the teenagers in the home give me that look...the look that dares me to love them regardless of how they are acting.  They know enough to know when they are being disrespectful.  The eyebrows raise~Do you still love me?  They know enough to know when a funny comment is being taken too far.  The joke fades~Love me now? They know how they should behave and often they choose poorly.  The jaw clenches~How about now?  Still love me?  I dare you.   Yes, sometimes discipline is required.  Yes, sometimes a big picture lesson needs to be taught.  But sometimes...sometimes they just need to be loved.   Even when they don't deserve it.   In fact, maybe especially when they don't deserve it.     

A friend advised, "Be their rock.   As the storms of growing up toss them to and fro, be their rock.  And love them no matter what."       

I Will Always Love You.

It would really help if my bathroom could do some of the preaching for me. 
Forget the budget this week, I'm buying that sign.   

And often their struggle with love has nothing to do with their sinful nature and rebellion.   A bad grade on a test.  Am I still loved?  A costly mistake during household chores.  Do you still love me?   The shadow cast from the excellence of a sibling.  Am I worth loving even though I'm not like him? 

In those moments, their fragile hearts question, whether they recognize its asking or not,  Do you love me?   

I Will Always Love You.      
No matter what you do. 
No matter where you wander.
Whether you want my love or not.   
I Will Always Love You. 

My seven-year-old is still vulnerably verbal enough to ask the question after she's been naughty. 
You still love me, right, Mama? 
It is my joy to answer that humble asking:   I Will Always Love You.   No matter what.    
The mere questioning assures me that she wants to be loved by me.     
That my love means the world to her and she doesn't want anything to separate her from it.  

I've been a little numb lately.   Emotionally dry.    Depleted. 
So, I've been asking the same of my Heavenly Father.
Asking Him to remind me how much He loves me.
Not that I doubt His love.   I've read all about it. 
I just want Him to come near and remind me.
To sit with me and sing over me.
To refresh me with His unconditional, overflowing love for of His beloved. 
Because loved people find it easier to love people. 
And considering I've been loving a little numb lately (no one's fault other than my own weariness), I could use the pouring on of my Heavenly Father's love.        
Does that make me selfish?  To desire the Father's love?  
What father doesn't find joy when his children come near and say, "I need you to love on me right now."
My heart struggles to thirst after Him.  How dare I ask for love from Him?   
My lack of self-discipline keeps my mind from rehearsing His words to me.   How dare I ask Him to love on me?    
The trials I see around me distract me from His truth.  How dare I come before Him with such faithlessness? 
Yet, I ask Him anyway.
"Can I climb up in your lap? 
I don't want to leave. 
Jesus, sing over me."  (Mercy Me, "Keep Singing")

Asking seems the greatest expression of my love for Him that I can offer right now.
To ask my Lord to tell me how much He loves me.
Childishly making the request...I know you love me...remind me how much. 
Somehow, it seems in the asking, He leans in a little closer.   
And His love overflows...filling the darkest corners of my heart...flooding the parched segments of my soul.  
Loved people, love people. 
His love refreshes and restores.  
He draws near.  
Just as I would do if my teenagers turned their eyes to me, climbed up in my lap, and said,
Mom, remind me how much you love me. 
Sing over me your love.  
Tell me you will love me no matter what.
Even when my heart strays.   My mind wanders.   My actions falter.   
Will you remind me how much you love me?   

Always.  I will never tire of telling my children how much I love them. 
Even when they don't ask.   Even when the storm rages.  Even when they give me the look that dares me to love them.     
Our Father's love equips us to love on others without protecting ourselves.
To dare loving on others even when it is undeserved.  
We should be the best at loving because we know what it is to be the recipients of undeserved love.  
His love never runs dry.   
And He will never tire of telling us how much He loves us.
Climb up in His lap and ask Him to remind you how much He loves you.
And be refreshed.   

Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."