After three days with a certain 3 year old and her sister, I have discovered that I definitely do not have unending patience for other people’s kids. People always say it’s different with your own. I sincerely hope so.
I’m not sure exactly when I reached the end of my patience. Maybe it was when the baby wiped poop in her hair or when I found the 3 year old throwing all her shoes into the crib on top of the baby or maybe it was when she was told not to go down the slide again and decided to roll down the muddy hillside instead. Seriously, how does she think of these things?!
And the kicker is this. At the oddest moments, when I am just about to explode, she comes up and puts her chubby little arm around me and looks up with those big blue eyes and says, “Emma, I love you.”
And that’s when it happened. I opened my mouth to answer, “I love you too, when…” But I caught myself. I wanted to say, “I love you when you obey. I love you when you are good. I love you when you listen to me. I love you when you eat your food and don’t complain. I love you when you aren’t asking me one thousand questions.” But in that moment God’s conviction hit me like an avalanche.
Because you see the thing is, I am that little girl. I complain. I disobey. I forget what God taught me one week ago, and He has to remind me a thousand times over. I whine and cry when I don’t get what I want when I want it. I demand things of Him like a 3 year old. I come to His throne muddy and dirty and in spite of all that, He never says, “I love you when…” There are no conditions to His love, no limits to His grace. Instead in His infinite patience, He looks down at me and says,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
"I alone will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” (Isaiah 43:25)
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from My love.” (Romans 8:38-39)
And so in that moment when I’ve reached the end of my patience and hear, “Emma, I love you.” I look down at that little blonde bob, wondering how such extremes of good and evil can possibly be wrapped up in something so small, and silenced by a little glimpse of the enormity of God’s love towards me, answer simply, “I love you too.”