I noticed also on that very first visit, that every time Mom C said goodbye to her kids, she would hug, kiss, and then whisper in their ear, “Love you…Jesus loves you!”
My family definitely, unconditionally loves each other; we just aren't big on saying it, you know, out loud. It was something you didn’t necessarily hear, but you knew for sure. Now with Chad’s family, I was hearing it out loud all the time and subsequently that Jesus loves you too! I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Add this to the fact that my soon-to-be husband (even if he didn’t know it yet) was bending down to have his mom whisper in his ear that Jesus loves him? What had I gotten myself into?
What I discovered, however, over the last 17 years is that my husband knows, without a doubt, that Jesus does love him, no matter what. That kind of resolve is enviable, but not unattainable.
We might not have someone physically whispering in our ear that Jesus loves us, but we are being whispered to every day in many ways. How many times during our busy day do we really just stop for a moment and listen for those quiet words? How many times are we able to just be still - if only for a moment - and offer even a small prayer - “Thank you,” “Help,” “Forgive me?" Are we ever quiet enough to listen? What might we hear? If we were to take care of ourselves just a little bit more spiritually, even if it’s only for mere moments of a day, would we not become better caretakers of our children and spouses?
If you aren’t able to be as demonstrative as my mom‑in‑law, that’s okay. I don’t say, “Jesus loves you” to my girls, mostly because Nana Christ has that covered. But, I do find my own way to tell them what I want to be sure they hear every single day.
And if the coffee hasn’t kicked in quite enough to muster up warm fuzzies before the bus comes, I consider my family extremely blessed that our kids go to Catholic school and so are constantly surrounded by reminders of God’s love for them. They are greeted by angels when they come through the door. Almost everywhere you look at our wonderful school there’s a crucifix, a statue, a picture - some reminder that, hey, guess what? “Jesus loves you!”
When I was growing up (not all that long ago) church doors were always open, day or night. Churches weren’t for walking by, they were for visiting. You could stop in, sit for a while surrounded by quiet sunlight dancing through the stained glass and ponder the universality and 2,000-year history of the truth that “Jesus loves me!” When I was little, my Mom was one of the “church ladies” who cleaned the church. I remember tagging along and instead of doing my assigned task of dusting; I would lie down in a pew and stare up at the ceiling. I felt so small and so big all at once. I’m not suggesting that anyone do that now (though, if you do, please let me know what happens.) The point is we can always seek out ways to nourish our souls and recharge the parenting batteries.
It seems far too soon to even think about the holidays, but Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. We always have to begin our planning early since we have to divide our time between cities, who’s coming, who’s going, and who’s staying where. With early thoughts about holidays, emotions begin to stir up early as well. If that weren’t enough, muddle in some typical family politics, any drama from the past year or all-out battle lines that were drawn and by the time the holiday season does roll around, there isn’t a bridge high enough for all of the water to go under.
I remain hopeful that if I am diligent about finding those moments in the day to quiet my mind, those places to rest my soul, and listen to who is always trying to whisper to me…by the time the first of the holidays arrives, my heart will have softened, Jesus loves me, and I’m afloat on the magic of the season…well, until my Mom calls to say, “I think your Dad and I will come out a few days early, but don’t fuss…”