Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew holds the very well-known advice about getting rid of your foot or eye if they cause you to sin. But it also includes two of my favorite lines.
Verses 3-5: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
and verse 10: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
As my daughter learns to sit up and crawl, I am amazed at how she finds such joy in everything.
Her capacity to love seems boundless.
This morning I sat on the couch while she played with blocks, happily chatting away. After a few minutes, she began to fuss. She is ever the sociable little girl and doesn’t like to be left alone. She wasn’t asking anything unreasonable. “Mama, I am lonely. Would you please come play with me?”
But my entire body protested. I was tired, hungry, and really wanted to be left alone for a few minutes.
I stopped and took stock of the situation. Here she was, this beautiful little girl we have been so blessed with, wanting to be near me, and I was protesting.
What am I teaching my daughter? That if you don’t want to do something for someone else, you just ignore them? How could I sit there, having nothing of any import that was pulling me away from her, and try to justify not getting down on the floor to help her set the block tower back up so she could knock it down for the hundredth time. How could I not help her gather the balls that had bounced too far away from her popper?
And then her dad came in the door after a long night at work. Her face lit up. Her little chubby arms stretched out toward him, her eyes wide, she began bouncing. Even once I picked her up, she kept bouncing, her limbs extensions of the excited joy that radiated from her. This is joy. This is love.
I have to step back and learn from little V. To show love is to know love. Love isn’t easy, but it is infectious and it is addictive. It reminds me of the “pay it forward” campaigns. Pass the love on.
Too often I get caught up in the exhaustion and stress of life, especially with life the way it is. Worrying about finances, work, health and the future, I forget to stop and savor life, to stop and share the love.
I hurry past people I have known for years at Mass because I am tired and don’t want to chat.
Stop, Sarah. Slow down, Sarah. Love, Sarah.
I get home from work and instead of relishing in V’s delight to see me, I am immediately annoyed that I can’t even get out of my work clothes before I have a baby snuggling and wanting to nurse.
Stop, mama. Slow down, mama. Love, mama.
My heart hurts when I think of what that must seem like to her, granted she is still young. I need her to know the depth of my love for her. I need her to know how unconditional it is.
And through my actions, I need to show her how to love. I need to show her how to love her family and friends. I need to show her how to love strangers and those in need. I need to show her how to love God. Or maybe she is showing me.
Stop. Slow down. Love.
Perhaps my favorite line about love is from the musical Les Miserables:
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Is there any better way to describe the love we feel for our children? I can’t think of one.
Stop. Slow down. Love.