“Do you love me?”
It’s probably the worst question I’ve ever been asked. It makes my skin crawl and I want to vomit every time he asks me this. I want to get as far away from him as I possibly can, crawl into a hole and fall asleep for a million years until I can forget that this ever came out of his mouth. Do you love me? His pleading eyes literally tear my heart into shreds.
How can he ask me this?
It started maybe a month ago. I’m not an emotionally vacant person, but I will admit that sometimes, I’m hard to read. It’s a defense mechanism and at this point, I don’t know how to turn it off. But here’s the thing: I am exuberantly emotional toward my children. They don’t have to question how I feel because I’m not defensive toward them. I’ve been stricken since their birth and I love them enormously. This question seems so ridiculously unnecessary that the first time he asked, I just laughed. Hysterically. Why the heck would he ever question my love for him?!
He was questioning it, though. Hard core.
My son has asked me many times over the past month if I love him. My response has run the gamut: at first, I was hysterical. Too funny, you crazy nut. Of course I love you! Then I was disturbed. Why do you keep asking me this? Of course I love you. Then I was serious. I love you, son. You’re one of the most important people in my life. Finally, I am so sad, I’m sick over it. How can you question my love for you? It’s consuming me. How can you not perceive it?
I didn’t want to write about this because my heart hurts over it and I’m letting you in to something I don’t even want to admit is happening right now. My baby boy is unsure about whether or not I love him even though I have expressed it in so many ways. There’s no mask. It can’t be mistaken. I love him so much and every time he asks me, it’s like he’s thrusting a dagger right into my heart. And the worst part is that he actually feels the need to ask at all. How does he not know?
I’ve been putting this blog off for a solid month. That’s why I haven’t been writing. I’m sorry, dear reader. I couldn’t bring myself to admit this to anyone else because it hurts so much. But I knew I had to eventually write about it because every time he asks me, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “He’s you, you know …”
Am I the only one? Am I the only child of God who looks to the Father in sincere disbelief and asks through tears, “Do you love me?” I’m incredulous, really, most of the time. How can it be?
On the wall in my room, I hung a canvas that I painted once, and I remember the look my mom gave me when she saw it. She had no idea what it meant … it was my heart cry. It was my first attempt at mixed media journaling and it says “U LUV me.” Not “I love you” or anything normal. Just a bewildered, “I can’t grasp the fact …” It’s unfathomable. He loves me. My King loves me.
When my son started asking this question, I couldn’t understand why he was so serious about it. But as the Holy Spirit began directing my thoughts heavenward, I realized that the pain I feel when my son asks me this in all seriousness is the same pain our Father feels when we doubt His love for us. After all, if we read our Word and are people of prayer, there’s no mistaking how He feels about us. But there’s a whisperer, in my child’s ear and my own, doing his best to convince us that we are unlovable. And even though God is exuberantly expressive about how He feels, we choose to believe the lie because deep inside of us are roots of insecurity that have a strangle hold on our hearts. I’m not good enough, therefore I am not worthy of love.
Unworthy? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We didn’t earn His love. We were born into it. The moment He conceived us was the moment He loved us fiercely, and He displayed His passionate love for us by sending Jesus to rescue us from the enemy’s clutches. He demonstrated His love by His willingness to endure pain and suffering and death on our behalf. While we were still sinners. While we were far away from Him, separated by a chasm of sin, entangled in a sordid love affair with the devil and the world. God loved us then.
“Neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We’re His. He loves us. When we accept Jesus and come into this love as a child of God, there’s nothing that can tear us away from His affections, or tear His affections away from us. We can walk away if we choose to, but that doesn’t cause God to stop loving us. And I am convinced that at the end of this life, when judgment must happen, it will be with tears of grief because many will choose to spend eternity separated from the love they’ve been chasing their whole lives and have rejected instead of embraced. I believe that moment will tear the heart of our Father to shreds. All this time He has looked at us and said, “Of course I love you.”
Trust me. He loves you. I know this because the love in me for my child is only a reflection of God’s love for His, and it’s consuming me. How much more passionately must God love us? Again … unfathomable.
How deep the Father’s love for us.
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To Make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory