I love watching my son. He brings joy to my heart, and when he calls me 'mommy' I just melt. I tend to be a futuristic thinker and have trouble staying in the moment, so one thing I try to do several times throughout the day is stop and take in the present. I'm told the time with my sweet little one will pass all too quickly, so I don't want to regret anything. One thing I've noticed as I'm taking it all in, is that a child who is loved behaves differently from a child who is not loved.
3 Characteristics of a Loved Child
1. Fearless. A loved child is fearless. They do not worry or concern themselves with the cares of the world. Rather, they live in the moment because they know their parents are taking care of them. I watched the movie The Tale of Despereaux years ago and one of the lines really stuck with me: "No one starts out afraid." Fear is a learned behavior and is natural to our humanity, but is not what God intended for us originally. God's perfect love casts out fear, and areas of our life in which we are fearful have not been perfected in God's love (1 John 4:18-19).
A loved child is unafraid to be in the presence of his parents. My husband and I were trying to put our son to bed several months ago, and my husband was playing the guitar. My son kept moving back and forth between my lap and my husband's lap. I'll admit I was getting slightly annoyed that he wouldn't just make up his mind and sit still; but, then, that's when God showed me how safe my son felt in our presence. I've seen some kids that would be afraid to go back and forth between their parents' laps for fear of being yelled at or punished; some kids who duck when their parents raise their hands. God showed me in that moment that my son knew we loved him more than anything. Our love for him dispelled his fear. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were naked and unashamed. They walked with God in the garden and lived an intimate life with Him. In Genesis 3 when they chose to disobey and sin against God, their eyes were opened to the fact that they were naked....and they were ashamed. They hid from God and covered themselves; they were afraid to be close to God. Their sin blinded them to the fact that God still loved them. God's love for them never changed, but their shame prevented them from seeing and receiving God's love because they were focused on themselves. When we are loved and receive God's love in full, we will not fear vulnerability with Him. In fact, we will crave it. The Bible tells us that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). If He loved us when we were unlovable, then we can rest in His love, knowing that before Him all is laid bare. He will never reject us, disown us or remove His unfailing love from us.
2. Free. A loved child is free. They love, laugh and live with abandon. They are joyful because they are not weighed down by worry and fear. They are secure because they have closeness and intimacy with their parents. As Christians, we have been set free by God's perfect love. We are not bound by fear or shame or rejection. We are fully known and fully loved by God. In this, we find the sweetness of freedom - there is nothing we have done or could do to change or remove His love from us.
3. Love. A loved child loves others. When we are full of love, the natural outpouring from within will be love. Love is a big word that encompasses so many qualities, including: grace, forgiveness and patience. It sounds nearly impossible to extend grace to those around us, forgive those who have wronged us and be patient with those who are provoking; but, through the perfect love of God we can do all of this. Love is all that can come from love.
We are God's Children and He is our Father
I think of how much I love my son and then am faced with the truth that God loves me even more. I am fully known and fully loved. I can love others because of my Father's love for and within me. God's love for us is unchanging and unwavering, but in order to live loved we must receive His love. Our hurts, wounds and fears keep us in bondage, causing us to reject the perfect love He freely gives. We need to ask God to give us a fresh dose of how much He loves us. Ask Him to help His love sink in to the deep recesses of your heart and mind. Warning: when you realize how much He loves you, you will also realize how undeserving you are to receive His love. He will ask you to change anything inside of you that does not honor Him and line up with His Word. This process will be painful, but His love will empower you, cover you, fill you and flow out of you. We cannot know love apart from the Father. Let us live loved so we can love well.