When I´m absent from my children I don´t have these physical and present reminders of their love. Instead, I keep it in my heart and my head in the form of knowledge and memories. It sustains me as it hovers intangibly around my heart until I can go home from a long morning at work and wrap my babies in my arms and engage in quality time once more.
Sometimes, I get tangible evidences of their love to take to work with me. Well, my son can`t really give me this other than the occasional spot of drool on my shoulder. There was one time he gave me a pebble which I carry around in my change purse. Mostly, though, he's not quite capable of that kind of purposeful expression of love. My daughter is a different story. She lavishes her love in gifts: wilted dandelions in the cupholders of my car or tucked behind my ear, lunch notes and hand drawn princesses, stickers on the back of my hand or my phone...
Today it's a necklace Her necklaces are her current crowning achievement. It is the absolute best she can do with her creative expression. She spent 45 minutes last week hand-picking each bead while I hurriedly prepared dinner.
"How do you like this one, Mommy. Isn't it beautiful?"
"Yes dear, it's lovely."
"Oooh! This is the most beautiful one I've ever seen! I'm picking it just for you!"
"Don't you love your necklace, Mommy? Why don't you wear it?"
"In a little bit dear."
"Did you wear it yet, Mommy?"
"Oooh! I forgot! I really do want to wear it. I'll wear it tomorrow."
Tomorrow is here and she is not and as I prepare for class-fuls of teenagers who must be taught Spanish, I stop and finger each bead--all so different, all so colorful, so many shapes and sizes--and I feel the love poured into each choice trickling into my heart and warming it in the stressed and worried places. The love poured into this plastic trinket soothes me in the places where I long to be a stay-at-home mom--in the places where I sometimes languish in the sadness of leaving my little living treasures behind each day.
She loves me. I don´t need the aqua colored, twisted rectangle shaped bead to show me that. Or the one shaped like a seahorse. Or the pearly orange one. Or the pink one (because pink is her favorite). But it´s nice to have them.
God's love is like that. It's a knowledge we carry with us based on our relationship with Him and our memories. It's based on head knowledge we carry from his Word and heart knowledge from the conversations we've had with him in the deepest places of our hearts. It's based on memories of his presence and our experience with him. God is not "with us" in the traditional sense of the word, but he is still always with us. He promises us that. Yet since it sometimes feel that He is far away (though He is not), he likewise leaves us with these tangible gifts that are evidences of his all-encompassing love. The beads my daughter gives are reminders of God's precious and thoughtful gifts.
The morning sunrise spilling in sheets from a break in the cloudy sky.
The scripture that seems like it was written just for me.
A perfectly timed song.
The kind words of a friend.
The groceries delivered to me when I was too sick to get them myself.
His voice whispering audibly into my heart.
A student who thanks me for all the hard work I've poured into her.
Peace and joy in troubled times.
These gifts wrap around me like a warm hug, hang close to my heart like the beads of the necklace my daughter gave me. Each one is a carefully chosen bead intended to show me love in a different way. His love is with me and it's tangible in the very fabric of my life. He loves us. He doesn't have to, but he does. When we open our eyes and search for him, when our ears are really listening, and sometimes when we are stubborn and deaf, we can't help but see it, hear it, feel it all day long.
Ephesians 3: 14-19
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.