Too Much Love?
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) – The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
The love I have for my daughter has twisted me up and laid me bare. The years of lonely waiting have been replaced with intimacy and pleasure. It’s the purest form of joy I’ve ever known, and it brings with it dark and brooding fears. My love for her tends to burst out of me in the form of singing, reminding me of the reference in the Bible to God singing over us. I have to laugh at times, thinking my life is the closest thing to a musical I’ve ever known. I start to tell her things and song lyrics from years past come to mind. Suddenly I’m making up new words that apply to her and our situation and we’re giggling and I’m wiping up drool and life couldn’t be more wonderful.
I talk to her all day long; I tell her what I’m doing and let her know I’m interested in her. Today I taught her how to deal with peppers, showing her the colors and letting her smell and touch them, explaining how a food processor works. I know it’s ridiculous and she won’t be able to remember anything about it, but I figure if I do this kind of thing often enough it will start to sink in. Maybe one day she’ll know her colors and not be able to say how she learned them, but it seems like something she just always knew.
I’ve heard other people around us observe with surprise how much I interact with her and how alert she is. I’m not sure if they’re happy about it or think I’m ridiculous. Their comments have given me pause. Am I too interactive with her? Am I too focused on her? Should I put her down during “happy-awake time” and get some work done, letting her entertain herself with toys and those fascinating hands she can’t stop admiring? She sleeps during the day and I’m able to get work done then. I’m not living in a messy house with a starving husband. We are well-fed, the house is fairly clean, and my chores are close to done. There are times when I put her down to finish some time-sensitive task. She entertains herself well during those times. But why would I miss out on the best times with her simply because she is content enough to be ignored? It’s so much fun to interact with her, to see her smile, to hear her laughter, and to cover her in kisses. Why would I give that up simply to have a house with zero dust?
But that fear creeps in, wiggling around inside and forcing me to stop and deal with it. Am I spoiling her? Will it be difficult for her to adjust if other children come along because she suddenly doesn’t have my full attention? And the most insidious thought of all – am I making her into a god? Giving up my worship of Jehovah to adore her and focus my attention on the gift rather than the Giver?
That last one gives me pause. It is so close to a truth that it almost causes me to put her down, walk away, and pick up my Bible to pray. That sounds like a godly thing to do, right?
But it is such a lie.
The truth that rings in my heart and sets me free to love and adore this precious child is that my adoration of her, my focus on her, is a beautiful extension of my love and adoration for my God who gave her to me. He blessed me with the most precious gift. He didn’t give me this gift to leave in a corner and ignore, just to be sure I don’t overdo it. How is that pleasing to Him?
My care for my daughter is an extension of my gratitude and thanksgiving to my God who lovingly placed her in my arms. I sing over her the way I imagine He sings over me. I find delight in her the way I imagine He finds delight in me. I’ve read my Bible faithfully for years, studied it and poured over it’s passages. I’ve committed them to memory and formed my life around it. I love the words in The Book. But now is not the time to pour over the words, but the time to apply them, to say them aloud, to teach them to someone else. And it is the principles in The Book that I am to teach. What does it say to this small and vulnerable child when she cannot get my attention because I’m studying a book? I’ve studied The Book and now I will pass it on to her. I’ll quote Scripture to her as it applies to our lives. I’ll pray over her. I’ll tell her stories from the Bible. It has become so much more than cold words on a page. In our home, it is breath and life and joy, structure and hope and love.
Of course I haven’t abandoned my study of the Bible. I lead a Bible study and feed my own soul from the words I discover there. It is so much more than a story to be read once, memorized, and filed away. The Word of God is powerful and life-altering. I love pouring over it, finding hidden treasure there that I missed in previous readings, considering the way the words apply to my life today in different ways than other days because my circumstances have changed. But I’m in a time in my life where I don’t need to be a scholar. I need to be a teacher.
There will come a day when my sweet Eliana won’t have my full attention. She won’t need it either. Those first few weeks of her life when I was healing and she was dealing with the shock of life outside the womb, I held her as much as possible. I stared at her face for hours. I knew that level of attention was impossible to sustain, but for those weeks I enjoyed every moment of it and soaked in her precious newness. Then the day came when I realized we all slept better when she was in her crib, and so she began to sleep away from me.
And then the day came that she didn’t need to nurse every few hours and she slept away from me for longer periods of time. It’s a natural process of letting go. Soon she won’t want constant face-to-face contact with me when she’s awake. She’ll have a world to explore and will be busy checking everything out. Toys and books and kitchen cabinets will demand her attention and I’ll be ready for the expansion of her world beyond me.
But for today, her chubby little knees are learning to lock into place and hold her in a standing position. I want to feel my heart soar as I see the proud delight on her face as she grows in strength and accomplishes this new milestone. I want to marvel up close at the strength in her neck as she holds her head up. I want to feel the softest cheeks as I kiss them, smell the sweetness of her head, and hear her laughter when I tickle her tummy. I want to listen as she babbles and coos, telling me her stories and trying to match my tones with hers. I feel like I was given a back-stage pass to the most popular show in the world and I’m not going to stand aloof in the back of the auditorium, too cool to eagerly go backstage and meet the band. I’m going to enjoy the intimacy that is the privilege of being a mother.
And as I raise her little hands and say, “So big!”, my heart is raised to my God who has given me so many reasons to thank Him. Each moment I spend adoring her is a moment my heart worships. There is no way I could love her too much.
For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. – I Sam 1:27