Miss Sofi Bug has one more year of middle school. She is an 8th grader this year. I can't believe it!
My baby has grown into a lovely young woman! sniff! It happened too fast!
The middle school years are not easy.
Young people, ages 11 to 14, begin the challenging time of trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in, and who they want to be, all while being bombarded by the world's view of what they should think, how they should act, and how quickly they should grow up. It can be overwhelming for them!
In an effort to manage this daunting time in life, Miss Sofi Bug has taken to asking a lot of questions. It's a very good thing, except when she asks questions like...am I pretty...am I smart...because when I tell her that she is pretty or smart, she often wonders if I'm just saying so because I'm her mom and I have to say yes.
Another question she has a tendency to ask is, "do you love me?"
Of course I always tell her that I love her very much. But I have begun to understand that she thinks I say I love her because, in this too, she believes I have to.
Several days ago Miss Sofi Bug made some silly mistake. She and I began to laugh at the situation, then she looked at me, smiled and said, " gotta love me!?" It was very cute and silly. However, I told her quite plainly that no, I don't gotta love you. Nothing can make parents love their children. Hopefully parents will love their children, but not all do. I told Miss Sofi Bug that I want to love her! I choose to love her. I will continue to choose each day to love her. It makes my heart happy to love her!
There will be times when she will disobey and there will be a need for consequences...I will choose to love! There will be times when her behavior disappoints me and I will redirect her...I will choose to love! There will be times when she will hurt my heart...I will choose to love! There will be many times she will make me happy and proud...I will choose to love!
At first Miss Sofi Bug was shocked. Without a doubt my response was in contradiction to what she believed about my love for her.
It was a couple of days later that I knew she understood my meaning. Miss Sofi Bug told me she loved me, not because she had to, but because she chose to.
I was so glad she understood. I was so happy she wanted me to know she understood. I was overcome with joy that my girl chose to love me too. I had no idea how much that would mean to me!
That my friends is when a teaching moment for my girl became a teaching moment for her mom.
Have I ever told you that one of my favorite things about being a parent is the many lessons parenting teaches me about my relationship with God? If not I should have! If I have, it's worth repeating!
It was in that moment with Miss Sofia that I had a greater understanding of God's desire for us to choose Him.
Though we sin, God chooses every day to love us. His love does not disregard our sin, but it is constantly extended to us with the offer of forgiveness.
Without question God wants our love. He doesn't need it mind you, He desires it. He desires to love us and be loved in return. Yes, much the same as I love my girls and long to be loved by them in return. Certainly, God could make us love Him. He is Almighty after all, and making us conform to His desires would take little effort. But forced love is not really love at all.
I suspect that is why God does not reveal Himself to us the way we think He should. Who could resist Him if He did? Instead He has revealed Himself in all of creation, in our relationships with others...though our relationships are imperfect...and through His Holy Word. He then allows us to choose...seek Him, or not. It is our choice.
A love that one freely chooses to give, that is awesome! That love is precious!
God has given us our own free will. He will not make us love Him, but make no mistake, He desires your love. It is precious to Him!