Jesus Loves Me, This I Know
Knowing Jesus loves me has never been an issue for me. Knowing he likes me, well, that’s a whole different story. For a long time, I looked at God’s love for me like the relative you love, but don’t particularly like (We all have them!). I love them because they are family; I never want anything bad to happen to them, but they aren’t on my Christmas gift list. Sure, if they are in a real fix, you help them out, but never above and beyond like for those you have real affection for.
I watched as God blessed others unexpectedly, answered their prayers, gave them what I perceived as an even keel and easy life. I watched as a bunch of junk happened to me and my family, our prayers went seemingly unanswered as I lived a bumpy and trying life. Sure, God threw me a bone every once in a while — after all, He did love me. I just didn’t feel that ‘God is good!’ so many proclaim, smiling toward the heavens.
Richard Rohr talks about the second phase of life. As I’ve entered that through experience, time, and perspective, I can now see how God not only loves me, but he actually does like me, too. He adores who I am and what I strive to be for Him.
Now, I need to be reminded of this more than I care to admit. He does that too, most recently in the middle of a storm our daughter was going through. She had seen someone from her past that spurred on night terrors for about two weeks solid after the encounter. Knowing these were coming made her afraid to go to sleep. I would sit in her room until she was asleep, usually for 45 minutes to an hour. The only thing that seemed to comfort her was my presence (sometime Ted, or both of us) and a music box that played “Jesus Loves Me,” a gift she had gotten for her dedication.
One night, I had played the box 5-6 times when I decided she needed to hear the words. I started singing; she quieted down. Success! I sang it again; she snuggled down. Phew! I sang it again; her eyes fluttered shut. Eureka! I started lightly humming; she sat up and said, “No, mommy. Sing Jesus song.” So I did, for 45 minutes until she was fast asleep. I was soaked in tears. Seeing her new faith give her comfort, feeling the power of such simple words and really allowing the love of God to settle in her and me in the middle of such turmoil — well, it brought me to tears.
So, now it means so much more. I have to allow myself to accept that God unconditionally loves me, that He likes me just as I am and for who I strive to be and that nothing I do can ever change that. Why do I have to accept and believe that with my whole heart? Because I believe it for Bella. If I believe it and model it for her about myself, she will believe it for herself as well (hopefully).
I want her to see that even when you feel like God doesn’t like you, He does. When you feel like God is ignoring you, He isn’t; He is right there with you. I want her to know a faith and love that can withstand the storms of life. I want her to have an example of faith that holds on during storms. As she grows up, I want her to be building examples to look back on from our example as parents, the church we attend, the people she is around, and the friends she finds.
Our journey getting Bella was a rough and bumpy road to say the least. However, that’s a story for another time. What times like these have taught me is that “little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.” He will be my leaning post in times of weakness. He does this most directly and beautifully through those in my life, their prayers, tears shared, faith and encouragement given to us.
It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but to raise yourself in faith. I’m finding my mama village/tribe in an adoptive mothers support group, in friends I admire, and friends who take a mothering role in Bella’s life. Mostly, my faith through these storms of weakness has been saved by having our spiritual formation community retreats to go to for the last year and a half. Time to be quiet and discern with God has brought me to not only accepting “Jesus loves me this I know,” but to “and gosh darn it, He like me too.”
Beth is one of our founding members of Imago. She is married to Ted Rice and they are the proud parents of a spunky almost-4-year-old, Bella. Beth loves getting together over a good meal and talking with those she holds dear...and new friends as well.