Happy Valentine's Day
I hear your cooing through the monitor. It wakes me from my sleep, the gentlest of alarm clocks. I open the door to your room and I see you lying on your back, delicate hands reaching for some imaginary treasure dangling just out of reach. At the first sight of me, you flash onto your back, onto your feet, dancing at the slats of your crib. Your smile is wide, your tiny teeth so painfully adorable, your eyes crinkled into little slits, just like the way mine are when I smile.
I sit in the antique, dotted chair while you nurse. This used to take all of your attention, all of your skill to accomplish. But now you study my face, play with your toes, make little grunting noises, all while you nurse. You’re good at it now. What once took all of your energy to figure out and accomplish is now second nature. One day other things will be this way. Walking. Talking. Writing your name. Now they seem huge, glorious challenges for you to conquer. Soon they will be just one more thing that nearly every human is able to do.
After you finish nursing you sit up straight on my lap, gurgling and smiling, the epitome of content. You see a stuffed animal on the table beside us, a fluffy porcupine doll with a heart on the end of his snout. You reach for it, bobbing up and down, nodding your head, anything to communicate that you wish for this doll. I hand him to you.
You hold him in front of you with two hands, studying his face. Then you plant a kiss on his heart-snout, a big kiss, a display of affection. Then you hold his body close to your chest and stroke his back. You hold him at arms length again, eyeing him all over. Then, pleased with what you see, you pat his head in approval.
Love has become second nature. You receive love from so many around you and now you bestow it on someone else. You don’t even know how to talk, but you can communicate affection, pleasure, care, and approval.
I think of the great love of my God, surrounding me with affection, pleasure, care and approval every moment of my life. Approval not based on my abilities, my competence, not even my consciousness. His love comes from his own filled-to-bursting heart, poured out on me. Like sweet icing spread across a cookie, soaking in, covering me, beautifying me. The more I am with him, the more that love will become second nature to me, like walking, talking, and writing my own name.
Valentine, you have the great pleasure of living in a world that is filled with the love and glory of God. May it soak into every fiber of your being. May it become a part of who you are. Grow in that love so that you may bestow it upon people rather than porcupines. Bless God by giving him back the love he lavishes upon you.
Happy birthday, my darling girl.