We’ve discovered (only through a lot of hair-pulling that led to a lot of prayer) that most of Maddie’s grouchy mood swings (when somehow the 7-year-old manages to make everyone else feel dumb) are due to her not feeling sure she is loved as much as her older sister.
“Do you not realize I love you just as much as I love Emily?”
I asked her that last spring during a particularly difficult 2-week swing.
She shook her head no.
I could figure out the reasons: Em gets to sit up front in the car with me; Em cooks with me; Em stays up later…
Which all boils down to one thing: Em spends more one-on-one time with me.
My explanations of “But, honey, you’re seven, Em’s eleven, there’s a big difference, you’ll get to do those things when…” all meant nothing until I set aside a couple hours to spend with Maddie alone.
We snuggled, we talked; I don’t remember all we did, just little things.
But they added up to a BIG thing: Maddie knew she was loved.
And since then I’ve found myself saying this to her: “Honey, when you know you’re loved, you don’t have to be mean to others.”
It just came out the first couple times I said it, but about the third time I stopped to think about it (that sounds dumb, but things just come out sometimes when you’re parenting–and most of them ARE dumb; remember the “if you cross your eyes too much, they’ll stay that way” speech? Or, in my mom’s case: “If you stick your hand out the car window, the wind will take your fingers off.”)
This one is true, though, isn’t it? If I KNOW, truly know, that I am loved, then I don’t have to prove my place with others, I don’t have to make them feel bad so I feel good. Maybe that’s why Paul kept praying that his fellow believers (including us) would KNOW the love Christ has for them. He talks about it having breadth and depth and height. He says we CAN know it, but it is also beyond our knowing, it’s THAT big!
If I KNOW I am loved myself, I can love others.
at least I can NOT be mean to them!