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Valentine’s Day Post 1 Of 3

Most of the lessons I have learned in life have come from being a parent. Several years ago one of my daughters taught me an invaluable lesson about the love God has for each one of us.

When Evelyn was two years old she went through a phase in which she did not seem to like me. She stopped giving me hugs and kisses when I left for work and when I returned home she would shy away and give me disgusting looks almost as if she was saying “why are you here?” At first it was amusing, however, when it continued to happen, I became bothered by it. I was not bothered by her or her actions. I was bothered because of the loss of the feeling of a mutual relationship with my daughter. At the time she was only two years old and I could have dismissed her behavior as just a phase that she would go through and eventually overcome, however, I did not like that thought. I worried about her as I wondered how long the phase might last or if she would ever come out of the phase at all?

As I observed the change in her behavior, I determined that I needed to do something and that I could not be passive in my relationship with her at that time in her life. Every day I woke up with the determination to show my love for her and every day I hoped that she would return that love through a hug or a kiss or even a smile. Every day I would pray that she would feel the love I had for her.

Some days were better than others. During this time I paid more attention to her actions and behaviors. One of the things that I noticed was that when I wrestled with my other children, Evelyn would slowly put away her hesitancy and would sometimes join in with the wrestling. She loved to wrestle. Wrestling brought out the joy in her. Yet I still could not force the issue. When I directly asked her if she wanted to wrestle, she would shy away from me. Yet, if I would lie on the floor and wrestle with my other children, she would eventually join in.

The reward was that on occasion, she would allow me to enter into her world for the rest of the evening. We would play and she would let me talk to her. Sometimes I would even receive a hug and a kiss as she went to bed. On those nights when I went to sleep, I would pray with gratitude for the moments I had with her. On such occasions I would often wake up excited for the new day, thinking that our relationship had turned a corner. I may have at times even slipped in my prayers on behalf of our relationship. I learned, and she continued to remind me, that every day was going to require persistence and focus. One day’s success seldom transitioned into the next day.

Over time, and it did take time, my daughter began to trust me again and in that trust she began to show her love for me. It was not easy even then. I remember many times in which her actions should have brought some sort of discipline or teaching of right and wrong. As I would approach her on such occasions, I could see that she knew that she was already in trouble. She did not need me to tell her that she was in trouble. Perhaps it was my efforts in observing her more closely over this phase in her life that allowed me to see things more clearly in her expressions. My heart was softened on many occasions and no words were spoken. I would simply open my arms and she would come running. She would wrap her arms around me and bury her head in my neck. After a few moments she would pull back, look at me and smile, and then she would be off on her way.

We have passed that stage in her life. However, I still work on our relationship just as I do with all of my children. I am probably not as focused as I was during that phase, however, that experience helped me to see more clearly the love that I have for my family. Prior to that experience I thought I knew that if I wanted my children to love me, I had to love them. However, I learned from Evelyn a much greater awareness of that principle. My love had to be unwavering.

Our Father in Heaven loves us more than we know, more than we can express in our language and with our understanding. Part of the process of this life is to learn to recognize when we feel God’s love for us. Even in those moments when we may feel that it is distant from us, we must hold onto the love that we have felt. We must also trust that as we have felt of God’s love in the past, that we will feel it again and again. It is then our responsibility to look for His love in our lives and then to emulate that love in our actions, our choices, our thoughts, and our desires.