She was afraid again, and I didn’t know what to do. Something about two and half—everything was suddenly scarier in her polka dotted bedroom, and the jolt from our regular, peaceful bedtime routine was starting to become somewhat of a nightmare for me, too. I was out of tricks. So I just held her close and tried to think of the antidote to fear.
Mom life does not provide ample opportunity for deep thinking, but it does provide ample opportunity for watching Frozen. That’s when it occurred to me: With fear, Elsa froze Arendelle, but with love, she thawed it. I spiritualize it every time: “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), perhaps out of a deep desire to redeem yet another hour lost to that movie. Oh, Olaf, leave me in peace!
That night playful snowmen were a world away. My poor girl was frozen in fear, unable to sleep yet again, and so I tried to speak thawing words over her. “Oh baby, Mommy loves you so much! And do you know who else loves you? Daddy loves you. Buddy loves you…” and I listed everyone that loves her. Every grandparent, every aunt and uncle, every cousin, every friend. I whispered their names into her hair, and with every name I felt her relax, her breathing deepen, and soon the room was filled with polka dots again instead of fear.
Then I reminded her of one more thing: “Oh and do you know who loves you the most? Jesus! He loves his Adelaide so much! He gave you a special smile and a special laugh, and every thing about you reminds us that he is such a good daddy. You are his girl, and he’ll never, ever stop loving you.”
Simple, obvious words, I suppose, but they choked me up somehow. Because maybe all Adelaide needed was to remember that she’s loved. Because maybe I needed to remember, too. That my people love me, that Jesus loves me.
We swaddle babies to help them rest, and perhaps we need to tightly wrap the fabric of truth around and around ourselves: We are loved.
Fast-forward a few months later to a heart-breaking season. A time when steady things became unstable, when uncertainty had me shaking in fear, and kind words felt scarce. Isn’t it funny how when a few people are cruel, it can feel like the whole world is full of enemies?
And so one day in the car, oppressed by fear and anger and isolation, I tried the same trick on myself: “Luke loves you. Adelaide loves you. Greer loves you. Dad loves you. Mom loves you…” I reminded myself of all the people who love me, and that most of all, Jesus loves me, and he’ll never ever stop.
The new trick isn’t a magic bullet or anything, but that day, tears of pain turned into tears of gratitude. Frustration found no footing in a heart overwhelmed by the simplest of ideas: I am loved.
It’s the first lesson we learn in Sunday School: “Jesus loves me, this I know”—but do we? It’s an elementary principle, the crux of our faith, and yet somehow so easy to lose. It’s like car keys—without them I can’t go anywhere, and yet I can’t seem to hold onto them either.
How different would our days look if we could somehow get our hands on the idea that Jesus loves us?
If we could squeeze it like play dough, watch it squish between our fingers? If we could tune our ears to hear the powerful, thunderous, blood-dripping, flesh-piercing, veil-ripping roar of truth amidst the familiar sing-song? Jesus loved us enough to die, and no author on the planet could conjure a love story so profound, even if he penned it with a lightning bolt.
So, to you, dear one, perhaps afraid, perhaps alone, perhaps crying tears of pain in your minivan, here is the key: Jesus loves you.
May this simple truth elbow its way into your soul and take up way too much room. Wrap up in it like a blanket, drink it in like water, let it soak into your skin like sun. Can we braid it into our hair and tie it into our shoelaces and paint it on our walls? Can I wash my sheets in it and mop my floors with it and plant it in my flowerbeds? Can I weave it into my clothes and spoon it into my morning coffee and pile it high on my dinner plate? Because I never want to lose it: Jesus loves me, this I know.
Dear one, “With his love, he will calm all your fears” (Zephaniah 3:17). I pray that “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” (Ephesians 3:17-19).