Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Messages from Daddy

My sweet daughter is so much like me. This theory has many implications. For example, she can be crying one minute and laughing out loud the next. She loves to make people smile and occasionally goes into a solo performance in the middle of the living room. Unfortunately it also has some negatives, like having a temper, making impulsive (and often downright dumb) choices, and (as we discovered tonight) can be sent into a hopeless downward spiral over a bad haircut. Let me back up a little...

I got this idea tonight, during our little toenail painting, girls night, pretty party, that I should cut Ellie's bangs. She's never had bangs before, and in fact has only had very minor, and very infrequent haircuts. Well tonight, as she was happily playing games on my phone, I started snipping away. As soon as she set the phone down and her eyes locked on the scissors, she launched into a fit to make any angry politician on the senate floor or colicky baby look like an amateur. I was totally shell shocked and caught off guard. When I finally settled her down enough to talk to her she looked at me with her giant, blue, tear-filled eyes and said "Daddy won't think I'm beautiful anymore." I stared at her in disbelief for a moment, and I'm not sure if it was because I could so plainly see the plight of every little girl's heart (including my own) or that she would be so insecure to think that her Daddy's affection would ever be lost but my heart fell to the bathroom tile and shattered for her.

I immediately texted John (who couldn't answer his phone at the moment) and he responded by sending her a voice text. After 10 minutes straight of crying I got her to listen to it. There were many sweet little sentiments in the message but the one that was most significant was "Ellie you are so pretty." After listening to it 5 times (I'm not exaggerating) she settled down. I was able to hold her and pray for her and encourage her and all was well...then she looked in the mirror again...and on it went.

I had to let her listen to the message over and over again for her to finally settle down and go to sleep (after ferociously telling me she did not like her hair and I could never cut it again).

Now sometimes watching these little moments in our lives play out seems significant for reasons we can't yet decode, and other times the parallels to our own hurts and hang ups are so obvious that we're dumbfounded at their lack of subtlety. See I think a lot of really ugly things about myself, and (if I'm being honest) about what God thinks of me. I know the Bible says God loves me, and Jesus died for me, the only problem is that doesn't intersect with my identity very often sometimes. You know how I can tell? I start getting really hung up about things like my saddle bags, and how clean my house is. I might be able to settle myself down enough to listen to a message from God "you are mine, you are beautiful because you're mine" long enough to stop freaking out, but soon enough I'm looking back in the mirror and I'm screaming.

It's as I'm watching my daughter press the play button over and over on that sweet message from her Daddy that I realize, I need messages from my Heavenly Daddy on repeat over and over again, not just once or twice, incessantly,relentlessly, perpetually echoing in my ear:

"John 1:12 I am a child of God"; "John 15:15 I am Christ's friend"; "Romans 6:7 I have been freed from sin's power over me."; "Romans 15:7 Christ has accepted me." And on and on and on (click here for an amazing list of messages from your Daddy).

I must be ever vigilant to remind myself of His words, His truth about me. I must be so ridiculously dependent on them that without them I scramble to get that phone back to my ear, listening to his voice, and his truth. Otherwise, I'm just a sad little girl, crippled by my own fears and lies, staring in the mirror focusing on all I lack.

Martin Luther once said, "entertain no doubt of God's love and kindness", I'm learning...moment by moment, to live this as reality. So tomorrow morning, when she looks in the mirror and remembers she has bangs, I'll begin pressing the play button on my phone for her again and again, all the while pressing the play button in my own mind...for myself.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

That darn cat

Remember that sweet little kitten that found us by crawling out from under a dumpster? (Read the story here) Remember how she entrusted herself to us, and it was like she knew that day that we were her only hope of making it so she became part of our family. Remember how helpless and sweet she was? Turns out she's terrible. She just is. She looks mean. She exudes meanness. You'll be walking around and all of the sudden she just bites the heck out of your feet. She'll bite your face, your hand. She'll bite you when you're petting her and when you look at her funny. She refuses to stay off the counters, and she knocks my favorite vintage glass strawberry on the floor (and I just know it's in hopes of breaking it). I can't stand her really. So I tried this thing "Project Nessa" to turn her nice. I thought, "if we are so super kind to her, and just show her love eventually she'll come around and start being a sweet ridiculously cuddly cat." Wrong! She's just as awful as ever. So here I am one day lamenting to my husband about it. Telling him "how did we get stuck with this waste of a pet?", and "She's the meanest living thing I've ever met, it's ridiculous." Then I mention to him something to the effect of "and to think we thought God was using her to teach us about him." Then John says something insanely (and characteristically) smart, "she still is." "OH yeah!", I start, "not a chance." And John, in typical fashion responds again, "Well, no matter how bad we are, God never gives up on us." I staggered mentally for a moment, realizing the perfection of the illustration. This helpless little thing, rescued from certain peril, only to turn into the kind of creature who would bite (quite literally) the hand that feeds her. And I realize, he's exactly right. Am I not like this with God...and, isn't everyone? Isn't that the whole point of Israel's story? Rescued from Egypt only to complain to God in the wilderness about the manna they were sick of, build a golden calf, forget Him and turn back to Him again and again? And how often do I take for granted the amazing salvation and love I've been shown by the Creator of the universe and bite at his hands in my life? But the point isn't my awfulness, or repeated failures. The point is God's love. See, the depth of the sin only makes the measure of the love greater. If I could love this cat...this mean-as-hell animal, wouldn't the love be greater because of her awfulness? Because of the fact that she never could be the kind of animal who "deserves" it? And wouldn't my love seem that much more amazing because of her terrible-ness? I remember Hosea, you know the prophet God told to marry a prostitute just so he could be a living illustration that no matter how many times we wander, he always accepts us back. Then I'm humbled. "The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” -Hosea 3:1 And I'm comforted again that God never stops loving. "His love never fails. Never gives up. Never runs out on me." (Jesus Culture, "One thing remains") And as my awareness of my sin increases, so does my appreciation for a God of infinite capacity. I guess I won't give up on her just yet...who knows what metaphor God may be teaching next.