Why do I love you?
Simple question, no?
We all ask it, don’t we?
Or more, we ask, in our hearts and heads, “Why do you love me?…Really?”
Though, I daresay, that last word might just be a whisper under our breath or in our heart.
I think, however, that it’s a question we need to ask our children.
Sound odd? For US to ask THEM? For US to ask THEM just why we love them?
Maybe it does…but here in our house, we do ask our children this. Coffeedoc is the best at it, the smoothest. Maybe it’s his quiet voice or his comforting dad self to lean on, I don’t know. It’s just him. But we have so many kids from different places, with different issues, needs, concerns….that this question is one we must intentionally address from time to time. It sounds silly, it almost feels silly…until you step through it and watch their faces as they listen closely. Sometimes they start by just kind of enduring us beginning this. But then, holding their hands and looking into their face, often clouded with sullen temper, or angry at an imagined injustice of sorts, or shaded with naive misunderstanding…you see them turn their listening up and they get very still. Shadows slowly flee, muscles relax. Because this matters, and especially at certain times it matters oh so very much. They need to hear it. We all need to hear it. Those stupid ignorant ideas that float about in our world, for instance: ideas like “color complex” that I want to smash to pieces but come already imprinted in teens from different cultures, (a whole ‘nother post or two, that)…those kinds of ideas make this conversation utterly necessary. Over and over, spanning years.
The process of stepping our kids through this question is important; for all of them, each of them, individually. No matter if they were born to us biologically, or if they came to us through the process of adoption, if they are “easy” kids or “hard” ones….they all need to step through this question. They might need to step through this question at different ages and stages, again and again; but I think, we think, that each kid needs to step through this question – explicitly, deliberately.
Heck, I need to step through this question with myself, about each one of my kids, deliberately. And often.
But, back to the question, how we walk our kids through this:
“Why do I love you?”
Is it because you are cute?
Is it because you are smart?
Is it because you have beautiful brown skin, peach skin, olive skin?
Is it because you are good, nice, sweet, funny, obedient?
Is it because you are tall, short, skinny, plump, stylish, artsy, musical?
Is it because you are faithful, diligent, determined, athletic, creative, a dreamer?
Yes…but, more: no.
Yes, I love those things about you, maybe more maybe less….but let’s face it, there are other things, often many other things, that are really NOT so lovable. Right? Um, yup.
So, can it be I love you on these good things only? Uh-oh…those things might change! You might get cranky or fat or lazy or hurt or frumpy or grow ugly even. It could happen. You could lose your hair or a leg or have a brain injury or get really sick…that all kinda changes you, right? Oh no….!
No. All those things are things I might like or not like about you.
But they do NOT define why I love you.
This and only this does:
I love you because you are Chris.
I love you because you are Jon.
I love you because you are Hannah.
I love you because you are Marta.
I love you because you are Sarah.
I love you because you are Emmy.
I love you because you are Anthony.
I love you because you are Gabey.
I love you because you are Tom.
You are, you, are intrinsically worth loving. Just because you exist, because you ARE.
Every one is. I don’t have to love, personally, every single person ever.
But I have been given YOU.
And you are worth it all.
There is no measure to a life, no qualifying for value.
I love you, because God made you and placed you with me.
Because you are Chris or Jon or Hannah or Marti or Sarah or Emmy or Anthony or Gabe.
Because you are you.
Why do I love you?
Because you are mine.