My kids have different personalities (no big surprise there!) and so I relate to them differently. Emma, our oldest, is strong-willed. She’s always willing to take the lead and take charge, even when she isn’t sure where she is going. Emotionally, she’s a lot like me. She can be sensitive to what others say…about her, about others. She enjoys affection, but isn’t overly emotional. Ruthie, our middle daughter, is all emotion. It can be a great thing—she gives spontaneous hugs and kisses everywhere and all the time. She is sunshine and rainbows. She can also hold our family hostage as we weather her temper tantrums. More than once, we’ve been late to an event as we wait for her to finish crying over her shoes and socks or her jacket or her seatbelt or, or, or…
Our little Olivia is a combination of her older sisters, while still being uniquely, “Olivia.” Recently, she has been a devoted “Mama’s girl,” jealously guarding her spot on my lap and hollering, “My mommy! My mommy!” if any other child (including her sisters) dares wander into her territory. She adores my hugs and kisses and tickle sessions in a way the other girls didn’t. In fact, she seems to crave the affection, and I have been reveling in this stage of her life, knowing it will not last forever.
We have a spot, Olivia and I, where we come together for ritualistic cuddling. After her nap, when I hear she has awakened, I go to her room to rescue her from her bed. I change her diaper and wash my hands and then we meet at the top step. Each day, she turns to me with her arms outstretched and says, “Hold you, Mommy.” I scoop her up and we sit down. I stroke her hair and she hugs my neck. I tell her I love her and she says, “I love you, too.” I kiss her head and she rubs my arm. It’s only for a moment, but it’s one of my favorites of the day.
Today, after I carried her down the stairs and she wandered off to play with her sisters, I thought about our ritual moment. She always seems desperate and yearning for the affection, almost as if she needs reassurance that I love her. She needs me and I am always willing to lavish her with love. Questions came to my heart:
Am I yearning for God? Am I desperate for Him? Do I need Him and acknowledge that need to Him?
If we are believers, if we have placed our trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t we all have a desperate, daily need for His affections?
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
Are we yearning for God, leaning into our days and nights and joy and pain with outstretched hands saying, “Hold me, Father?”
At night, my soul longs for You, indeed my spirit within me seeks You diligently. Isaiah 26:9a
I call the spot at the top of our stairs “The Hugging Place,” because that’s where Olivia demands and I grant her desire for affection and attention. Do we have spiritual “hugging places,” places where we stop and request God’s loving presence, allowing the Spirit to wash over us and make us new? Places where we are refreshed, renewed, reminded of His great love? Places where we simply abide in Him and He in us? He is so happy to indulge…
“But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” Isaiah 54:8b
This week, I’ll be spending time in the “hugging place,” exploring why God wants us to meet Him there and what we can expect from Him. Hope you’ll join me!