Perpetual Child

When I was a child, even a young teenager, I left my house in the morning and ventured through my day feeling untouchable. My heart wasn’t closed off, I wasn’t guarded, I just felt like nothing could hurt me. I knew that no matter what happened during my day, no matter who approved of me or disapproved of me, no matter how I failed or succeeded, at the end of the day, I was going home to a family who loved me and knew me and believed that I had value and importance.

After my family disintegrated, I felt for a long, long time, completely untethered. Vulnerable. I felt seen. Exposed. I didn’t have a place to go at the end of the day where I mattered.

I thought I had lost that sense of love and safety forever. I was on my own, out in this cold, uncaring world, and probably it wouldn’t matter to anyone if I even existed. And everyone’s opinions of me weren’t just opinions anymore but truths. People had so much power over me.

I was thinking last night about all of this and how I wish I had safe arms to run to and be held by and eyes who would look at me with love and tenderness and say things to me like, “If only you could see yourself the way I see you…”

And then I thought about God and how He is supposed to be that for us. He is supposed to be our safe place, or source of unconditional love. And I thought about how that is a warm, fuzzy, comforting idea, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like much more than an idea. A truth that is vague and not really present.

But I am convinced that is not how it’s supposed to be.

We’re not supposed to see Him as “up in the sky somewhere”. We aren’t supposed to see Him as nothing more alive than the stories within the pages of our Bibles.

He IS alive. And as mature and grown-up as we think we are, we’re sadly immature in the ways of the Lord if we think we’re supposed to outgrow the need for Him to be Abba.

And really, what better thing can parents do for us than teach us how to allow ourselves to live as children of God? What better thing can they do for us than create an environment in childhood that makes it easy to transition to trusting God with the unshakeable, unfailing childlike trust we bestowed upon our parents as children?

I cannot hug Him, but I can hug my Bible. I cannot cry on His shoulder, but I can cry into the pillow, which I wouldn’t even have at all if it wasn’t for His provision. And when I’m smiling or laughing, sometimes I swear I can sense the warmth of God’s smile filling the room. He is alive. He is present. Make no mistake.

It is my prayer for myself, and for all of us, that we are able to sense His presence as real and near to us as anyone else in our lives.

We are beloved. Safe. No matter how old we get and how “grown up” we’re supposed to be, no matter whether or not our parents are present anymore or have ever been present, we are always, always Someone’s treasured, protected child.

“Continue to live like that is true, precious one. Because it is. In the morning when you wake up, I am smiling at you. When your day is going well or poorly, I want to hear about it. And at night when as you’re falling asleep, let Me tuck you in.”

I know that I know that I know that the Lord is never too busy to bend down from heaven and kiss my forehead before I fall asleep at night. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was nothing He loved more than my request for a kiss or a hug His firm grasp on my hand.

We are supposed to have faith (trust) like a child. Maybe partly because He deserves it (He is unfailingly trustworthy!), but also partly because He knows how much freedom there is for us once we’re able to let go and trust Him with our lives and hearts.

After all, if you had trust like a child, how much easier would it be to have peace like a child? And if you had peace like a child, how much easier would it be to have joy like a child?

Maybe we aren’t meant to outgrow as much as we think we are.

Dolls? Maybe.

A hope and joy that the world might call naïve? Absolutely not.

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