Over the last week, we have talked about the 3 habits to prove to our kids that we LOVE them over time by Showing up, Knowing Them, and Never Running Away. Sarah Anderson illustrates this last habit by reminding us how important it is that our kids know we will keep showing up no matter what.

By Sarah Anderson

It was a long day in the Anderson house today. Literally. Emotionally. It was all long. And by the end of the night, when putting the first of two to bed and trying to salvage the night with a “spiritual” moment, praying through babbling and giggling and attempts to pull at my hair through the crib slats, I opened my eyes briefly to see my oldest son doing something I had explicitly told him not to do moments before.

My nerves were shot.
My patience was thin.

And while I tried to wrap up one bedtime routine neatly with my youngest, my oldest came behind me, wrapped his arms around me and laid his head on my back.

“What are you doing?” I asked, curious, but also, tired—so very tired.
“I’m trying to hide,” Asher told me.

Not ten minutes before, when correcting him for something different, he asked me when he would be a grown up. “Not for awhile”, I told him. “Why do you want to be a grown up?”
“So I don’t make mistakes.” He asserted.

In light of that conversation, his wanting to hide meant even more.

After breaking the rules, getting out of sight appeared the only option—and he was waiting to see if I would let him.

Adam and Eve can relate. After breaking a rule themselves, they too wanted to hide. Instead, they caught the eye of their loving father who refused to punish them relationally for their sin. They tried to hide, but their loving Father sought them out.

My son was simply doing what humanity has always tried to do.

Consequently, bedtime looked a little different.

We read books, brushed teeth, and then we talked.

I didn’t get all of the words right, but I gave him all I had, and all I knew.

“Asher, making good choices is hard,” I started.  “And being a grown-up doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes. But it’s still important for you to obey. We have rules in the house, and when you don’t follow them, there are consequences. But when you disobey—when you have a bad attitude or aren’t sweet to your brother, it does not change how much we love you. You don’t have to hide. Mama and daddy love you the same on the good days and the hard days. We are always going to come and find you.”

But even more was on the line.

“And Asher,” I went on, “Jesus loves you the same no matter what too. When you are in time out, Jesus sees you and says, ‘I love you.’ When you share with Pace, Jesus sees you and says, ‘I love you”. When you whine or tell a fib Jesus sees you and says, ‘I love you. No matter what.’”

This wasn’t new information. But it was timely. And strangely enough, while trying to explain to my three year old the incomprehensible and inexhaustible love of God I haven’t even begun to understand the depths of myself, I teared up. Because it turns out the message you need to hear at three, isn’t much different than the one you need to hear at thirty-two. God keeps showing up. No matter what.

What a beautiful thing. On the days when we wish we could throw in the towel and undo the baggage we feel certain we are heaping on our children, we may want to hide because we got it wrong—again. God’s love bids us forward towards an exceptional reality. He sees you, and He says, “I am not going anywhere. I love you. No matter what, I love you.”

We will never outgrow our need to hear of this kind of love over and over again. And that, partnered with an exhausting day, will cause both my three-year old and me to sleep well tonight.

Sarah Anderson writes for the XP3 student curriculum at Orange. She is married to Rodney Anderson and is mom to two beautiful bouncy boys, Asher and Pace