1. When Adria was born, I was so in awe. She was perfectly made, and the miracle of our creator God was not lost on me. I distinctly remember, holding that newborn, thinking that she was proof of God's existence, right there in my arms. How else could she have gotten there?
2. And of course I had known love before. I loved my parents, and my family. I had been in love a few times. I loved my husband, and I loved God. But in the days and months that followed Adria's birth, I experienced a new love, a greater, deeper love, than anything I could fathom. The love I felt for my baby daughter was indescribable, and as close to unconditional as I expect we'll be able to experience on this earth. I began to imagine what God's great love for me must be like. "How great a love the father has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!" I honestly can't understand receiving the love that even my own parents have for me, much less the great depths of the love of God, but here I began to catch a glimpse.
3. I still marvel at those other-worldly realizations. Not a day goes by that I don't think of either of them. But in addition now, Adria has grown to the point that my job is not only nurturing, but disciplining, too. I explained to her the other day, discipline means choosing to do the right thing. I figure that definition is simple enough now, and will stay the same as she grows. So my appeal is, choose to do the right thing! The other day getting ready for naptime, the appeal was lay your head on your pillow! For naptime, that was the right thing. For her and my relationship, obeying was the right thing. But she just wouldn't. I found myself literally thinking, if you would just obey, I promise it will go well for you! I will pour out my love and blessings on you. I will snuggle you, and pet your hair, and sing, and tell you how lovely and safe you are. You will get to relax and recharge. You need a nap! There is a reason I'm telling you to do this, and it is for your good! A toddler sized fight ensued (which anyone with a toddler would know about the size of that fight), and I'm pretty sure that instead of receiving the blessing I had in mind for her, she received a punishment. Or at least some unpleasantness!
And my very own words rang in my head. If you would just obey, I promise it will go well for you! I will pour out my love and blessings on you. There is a reason I'm telling you to do this, and it is for your good! It has been challenging personally to instruct Adria to choose the right things. Because that means I must also choose the right things. It has been enlightening to think of obedience to God's commands in the same context. Jesus said, "if you love me, do as I command". I'm starting to get it.
4. Finally, just this weekend I had occasion to learn yet another lesson myself. Adria had a behavior problem that escalated quickly; in fact I think it got out of control before she realized what was happening. We were playing, snuggling, tickling, something along those lines, and her little arms began to flail. And then hit. So I told her, uh oh, you're hitting and I don't think you mean to! Let's get control and choose the right thing! And she looked squarely at me and told me "shut up!" Well, what do YOU think happened next? I picked her up, toted her upstairs like a sack of potatos for a time out and gave her a pop on the hand. "You're going into time out because you hit and said shut up to Mommy."
Oh, the wailing that ensued, but after a minute, she still wasn't ready to settle down and get out. Another moment passed, and then she was ready to come to me. I picked her up in my arms and sat in the rocking chair with her and told her that I loved her and wasn't mad at her, and that everything was alright. As soon as she was ready to change her behavior, I was ready to receive her back, and in fact, nothing could ever change my love for her, and I wanted to be with her. We rocked and settled down, and then moved on with the rest of our day, happy as could be and without further incident.
But for me it served as a lesson on forgiveness, too. I want to accept forgiveness the way Adria accepted mine. She turned from her bad behavior and our relationship was restored. Just. Like. That. So often I'll wrestle with regret and self loathing before I finally let myself off the hook, but it would break my heart if Adria wallowed when my forgiveness was already offered. Learn the lesson--yes. Be shaped and changed by it--yes. But turn from the sin and joyfully accept the fullness of forgiveness, just. Like. That.