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Tonight as I was rocking Mitchell and singing to him, he took his tiny, chubby hand and held mine. His idea, his move. Of course, I absolutely melted with the sweetness of that moment. There is nothing like a tiny, trusting child taking the initiative to make contact. Not out of need, sadness, hurt, or any other thing they want from you, just out of the desire to be closer to you. As I sat there and drank in the presence of my precious baby, I thought of how often when I hold a child’s hand it is to protect him or her from harm. “Please hold Mommy’s hand and don’t run out in front of the cars.” Or, “If you get away from Mommy, you might get lost. Hold Mommy’s hand.” My initiation for his or her protection. Still very sweet but not quite the same as this moment. Or they hold my hand out of hurt or fear in a frightening or painful moment. Their initiation and still extremely precious, but there’s something missing from that contact that is present when a child just wants to be with you. Wants to touch Mommy and to feel love expressed physically.

As so often happens when I am still and present in my situation, God quickly moved my mind from these meditations to thoughts of His heart. I thought of this last week. How so many of us in this country and around the world have been moved to more thoughts of Him in our collective hurt, pain, and fear. We want to reach out and have Him navigate us through this parking lot of zipping cars coming in an out and not seeing our little hearts before we’re crushed in the choices of another human being who didn’t care to pay attention to those around them and what would happen to them. How a nation in pain has uttered many, many more prayers than average for these stricken families and this torn city. And that is right and good. I know His heart bleeds with us and while He cries for us and holds onto our often faithless selves whether we had run to Him the day before, or the year before, or a decade ago, or never…don’t you know He longs for that other contact too? That little hand curled around His powerful fingers when we don’t need anything except HIM. Why do I wait? Whether my life right now includes months of peace, days of peace, or only moments of peace, there is something I can offer. Some snatch of a breath of time to offer Him my affection. Not my need, my want, my hurt, maybe not even my praise in that second…just my adoring affection.

I wonder if some of that faith like a child doesn’t only come from an unawareness of evil or less opportunity to be jaded but also from a choice to not hold my heart aloof in quiet moments. If my moments are not spent building my defenses but in baring my little affectionate heart before a big Father, I feel that my faith would quickly follow. For He would take my affection even more carefully than I take my child’s. He promises my tears in a bottle, yet I don’t have the tears of my adored children. He says He knows the numbers of hairs on my head, yet I can’t give you that count on these little people for whom I would give my life in an instant. How much more does He love? How much does He long for us to go back to that place? And I think of this season and how God Himself became a baby hand curled around that of His Mother, and I feel quite certain that it is entirely possible that the God who can make Omnipotent Power Personified into a Baby Savior can also soften my heart into that place of affection again. That place of being present with Him for moments of belonging, not only moments of need.

I was teasing my boys tonight about being excited about what I got them for Christmas. I asked what they had gotten me and they sputtered and looked at me with a very “average-young-guy-at-Christmas-what-do-you-mean-oh-no-I’m-in-trouble” look on their faces. I laughed and told them I was kidding and not to worry. John V got a grin on his face and said, “Wait, I got you ME!” And then Levi went for the one up with, “Mommy, I got you my heart!” Melt. Sorry to all the jewelry stores trying desperately to convince everyone that a diamond is the only way to go for your lady, but that answer just gave me all I needed. That’s what I want. Precious little boys who trust my heart for them enough to want to pour theirs out to me, knowing it will be accepted wholeheartedly. They knew the reaction they would get. Hugs, kisses, and the assurance that those would be the best gifts ever. He promises that if I know how to give (or receive?) good gifts to/from my children, He knows unfathomably more how to give what we need.

He is beautiful. And that perfect Beauty wants me. My heart can’t hold that. He has sent us Emmanuel, “God with Us” and I think for Christmas I would like to give Him Courtney, “Child with Him.”

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