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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Love Anyway

She had been telling me about her for months. Anna (not her real name). How her pretty blonde hair was worn in pigtails with bows or woven into a long braid. She talked about her all the time, asking when we could go to her house or when she could come play at our house. And after a recent, tearful conversation with my daughter about her desire for “girl friends to play with,” my momma heart was happy to see her so excited about a new friend.

On the morning that I finally caught up with Anna’s mother at preschool drop off, her daughters hair was in those same bouncy pigtails. Mine had requested pigtails as well "just like Anna’s!" I introduced myself to her mother- a lovely and polite woman- and we made tentative plans for a play date in the near future. But the next week at drop off, as my bubbly little girl bounced into the hallway and greeted Anna, the little girl frowned and turned away without even acknowledging her friendly greeting. This of course did not phase my own daughter who has never met a stranger. I tried to brush it off as shyness, and tried not to put too much weight into preschooler antics. But at the end of the day, when I asked Vesper with whom she had played that day she replied “Anna!”. So I asked, "Did Anna talk to you today?"

“No,” she breathed her reply.

As we walked down the hallway to her classroom the following week, my daughter exclaimed, "Oh I hope Anna is here!" And as she burst into the classroom, she rushed straight over to the little blonde girl with her arms outstretched for a hug.

But again the pigtails turned and backed away, the same frown on her face. And just as I was morphing into defensive Momma Bear mode, I heard Vesper tell her, 

"I'm so glad you're here! I love you so much!"

And my heart shattered...

Not because it’s difficult to see your child give pure, uninhibited love and be met with silence. Not because I want my daughter to be popular. But my heart broke because I hope she never cares. I hope that she always loves, no matter what. I pray that someday she will choose her friends for their hearts, and not for their hair styles. I pray that the Lord would send her friends with character and wild, messy beauty and glaring flaws because I pray that she would learn to love those flaws and love the flaws within herself.

I’m not worried. When I look at my daughter, I don’t see a girl who gives up easily. At three years old, she knows who she is and what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. And if she wants to love you, there’s no escaping it. You WILL be loved. And maybe I need to take a page out of that book- to love even when I feel unloved. When everything feels so… unlovely. What would it look like if we chose love every time- gave grace upon grace?

I have a feeling it would look rather like the cross. The One who loved even the unloveliest- even those who hated him. The God-man who could have remained on a throne, and yet threw himself among the lowest so that our flaws might be made right. A God that loves purely, without condition, even after we turn away over and over again.

And that’s a lesson I want my child to learn. That’s a heart I want her to have.

When you gain nothing: love anyway.

When you feel unlovely: love anyway.

When your heart might burst: love anyway.

When you feel run down, worn out, and battered by the world: love anyway.

Pure.

Uninhibited.

Unconditional.

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