On Monday, Valentine went to the dentist and picked out a spirograph as her reward at the end. She found me later and showed me her first attempt. I said, “Nice! I bet when you practice more you can make an even cooler one.”
Her face clouded and she said, “Mama! When you say that, it seems like you’re saying I should make a cooler one because you don’t like this one.”
I sank onto my knees and apologized, holding her small hands in my own.
She reached out and curled her arm around my neck and leaned in, cheek to cheek. “This is for you,” she said, handing me the drawing. “I want you to have it so you know I forgive you.”
And then she spun away, leaving me with the paper in my hand and my first lesson of the year—
I have told you that I am in need of filling, that I am empty. Part of this emptiness, no doubt, is my need to be better, to be perfect, to be cooler. My constant preoccupation with becoming qualified and justified in whatever arena I find myself has robbed me of seeing the love, grace and forgiveness that is always mine at any moment.
I’m reading Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle and in it she says, “We are loved because we are his children, because we are. The more we feel that we ought to be loved because it is our due or because we deserve it, the less we will truly feel the need of God’s love; the less implicit will be our trust; the less will we cry out, Abba!”
Valentine came to me in trust, showing me her very vulnerable and joyful first attempt. She, like most young children, is able to believe in a love that is big, not based on merit, and ready to receive her with open arms. And as much as I want to be the source of such love, this kind of love can only be truly and wholly found in God. My prayer is that my heart will soften and mature to have this same faith, a faith in a Love that is big, not based on my own merit, and ready to receive me with open arms.