Eight weeks into Jovanna Truth’s life and I am enjoying every second.
I love watching her sleep peacefully knowing she is only able to have that experience because she is safe and having her most basic needs met.
I love seeing her giant smile when she sees my face or hears my voice, realizing that she is connecting to the reality that I am her mother.
I love when she falls asleep on our chest and we can examine her tiny feet, toes, hands, and fingers.
I love seeing the other children dote on her and kiss every inch of her face as they giggle and talk to her.
I love seeing her curious big brown eyes curiously examine her environment.
I realize as I spend these first precious weeks with Jovanna that I am finding great pleasure by simply enjoying her. I am delighting in her. I am pouring out my love on her without any reserve or holding back. If I step back and think about it from a utilitarian perspective, there is little Jovanna has done to deserve my love. She has little to offer me at this stage in life…
I do not know yet if she will be at the top of her class or struggle immensely with school. Maybe she will be a wonderful musician, or maybe she will not have a single rhythmic bone in her body. Maybe she will be a wonderful athlete or maybe she will be tripping over her feet.
It is interesting that at some point as parents our language changes. We delight in our children’s achievements. We delight in their accomplishments. But in this first part of our child’s life we take great joy and pleasure simply in enjoying them. Not because of what they have done, but just because they are ours….
This is the love God has for us. He delights in us, not because of who we are or what we have done. He delights in us because we are his children. We do not deserve this kind of love, we cannot earn it, and we cannot lose it. It is a free, generous, and gracious gift that is lavished upon us.
I remember early in fostering my daughter, she would sit on the toilet and scream at the top of her lungs for hours (not exaggerating…hours). There was one day that I was walking down the hall, my ears burning from the sound, my heart heavy that maybe I was doing something wrong, my body tired and frustrated, when the Lord prompted me to go look at my daughter again.
I felt God press on my heart… Do you love her? Do you love her with the same love I have poured out on you? In that moment, I began to smile (yes, the blood curdling screaming was still continuing) because I was able to pause, breath, and delight in her.
I can see eyebrows raise as I type that. How do you delight in a 4 year old screaming at the top of her lungs? Are you crazy?
I found delight not in her behavior, but simply in the fact that she was my daughter. What my heart needed in that moment to be able to pause and just enjoy this little girl that God had given me. That is what I needed to be able to walk back in that bathroom and lovingly engage in disciplining her heart. I needed to pause and watch her… to think about the strength of soul it takes to spend that long screaming. To think about the survivor I have in my daughter and to imagine/day dream how that screaming…when transformed by Christ…will grow her up to be a woman with great tenacity.
My children transformed in the first year I had them. I am convinced that it was not any great skill Vermon and I had as parents, nor was it any secret bag of parenting tricks, but what transformed them was the fact that they were deeply loved, enjoyed, and delighted in.
As I work with families who struggle with connecting to or attaching to their child they have adopted I can say it is extremely important to find ways to simply enjoy their children (even while they are screaming at the top of their lungs :)). If you can release expectation and detach from taking pleasure in “good” days, but take moments everyday to deeply enjoy the fact that they are lovable just because you say so then your heart begins to open and deep connection begins to happen.
I am so thankful that this is the love God has generously poured into my life and it is the only reason I can so freely give it away.
“See how great a love the Father has lavished on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when he appears, we will be like him, because we see him just as he is.”
1 John 3:2-3