Nothing has brought a more clear understanding of God’s love for me than being a parent. There are many lessons and realizations that my husband and I have had since our son was born, and God is continually showing us more of his character as we experience the ups and downs of parenthood.
My son Theodore is 10 months old and a complete joy. He is energetic and active, independent and curious. He always brings a smile to the face of anyone that sees him. He has, however, never been much of a cuddler. He is always wanting to move and look around, and when I try to hold him close he tries to wriggle out of my arms, not liking to feel restricted. As other parents struggle to get their babies to sleep in the crib rather than their arms, my son would rather forego the snuggles and rocking and be put directly in his crib to fall asleep on his own. Although this is very helpful for me in getting stuff done throughout the day, I wouldn’t mind a few snuggles here and there and having my baby fall asleep in my arms.
This past weekend Theo wasn’t feeling well, which thankfully is pretty rare for him. He was having some tummy pains and gas and was very uncomfortable. He was crying and fussing, not eating or nursing. It was so hard to watch him in such discomfort and I spent the day holding him. For the first time since he was a newborn, all he wanted was to snuggle in close to my chest, rest his head on my shoulder, and let me soothe and comfort him. He slept in my arms off and on during the day and only wanted to be in my arms, as close to me as possible. It truly melted my heart and felt so good to be able to hold and care for my sweet baby boy.
Since then, he is feeling much better and is back to his normal, active self. However, when I have been putting him down for naps or bedtime, he has been putting his head on my chest and snuggling into me, totally relaxed, and letting me rock him. I have been absolutely loving it! This is so unlike him, even though he is feeling better. The only thing that changed is that he was sick and needed me, and I was there for him. Because of this, he experienced a love and comfort that he may not have even known he needed.
Sometimes we unknowingly hold ourselves back from the full extent of God’s love and care for us.
It feels like since he went through a tough time and had to rely on me for comfort in a different way, he has suddenly realized how comfortable he is in his mama’s arms. He has realized that even though he loves exploring and constantly being on the go, he is truly at home in his mother’s arms. With the experience of pain also came an experience of comfort available to him for which he hadn’t been reaching. Although I hated him having to go through that, I am thankful that the experience created an even stronger bond between us. It’s as if the full extent of my care for him was unrealized until he was forced to slow down and accept it.
I’ve seen this play out in my relationship with God. I long for love and belonging, but at times I forget that I can reach out for it. At times I am doing fine and forget to seek Him, and gradually I find myself empty before I think to go to my Savior to be filled. There have been many times I find myself struggling before I reach for the one who has been there all along, waiting for me to realize my need for Him.
There are times we must go through difficult circumstances in order to fully accept the love and comfort for which our soul longs.
If you have never experienced this kind of love and comfort before, I pray you let your wall down and allow yourself to lean in. If you are going through a tough time, there is someone who is on your side, waiting with open arms to hold you close and give you the rest you need to keep going. And if you have experienced this closeness before, don’t wait until your soul is weary before laying your head on the strong shoulder of the one to whom you belong.