One of my very favorite things about being a Mama is the way God uses Yikealo to help me understand better just how much He loves me. My love for Yikealo does not change or fade or become less "real" based on his behavior. Can I get annoyed with him at times? Absolutely. Does he need to be corrected when he is disobeying? Undeniably. Do I love him any less when he is misbehaving? Certainly not. He is my son, and I love him with everything that is in me. I will go to great lengths to help him understand just how much he means to me, and I'm realizing in a new way that God does the same thing with me, his adopted daughter, during each and every day.
There have been so many times when I am lecturing Yikealo about some wrongdoing that I hear the echo of my words reflected back onto me. When I'm looking into his sad little face and saying, "Why won't you listen? Don't you know that I know what is best for you? There is a REASON that I told you not to do that!" I can almost hear God saying the same thing to me: "I don't want you to get hurt. I love you so much, and I just want to protect you. Please listen! I am not asking you to let this go because I don't want you to have fun; I am asking you to let it go because it could harm you, and nothing pains me more than to watch you get hurt." When I pick my child up to hold him, comfort him, and assure him that I love him in spite of the bad behavior, I can almost feel my heavenly Father doing the same for me: "Come here, Larisa. Lay your head against my chest and just rest in my promises. I love you so much that I died for you. Do you really think that I am going to stop loving you for some reason? I won't! You are forgiven. Go apologize and move forward! My mercies are new every morning."
Last week, Yikealo came home from pre-school with a colorful paper turkey with five tail feathers. Each feather had something listed for which Yikealo was supposedly thankful. His list was rather random: apples, my toys, food, my race car (he doesn't even have a race car) and "the color green." Ahem...green is the color that he has the most difficulty identifying. That evening, David and I were giggling over his list, and David put on his best pouty face and said, "What about your Daddy? You're not thankful for your daddy?" Yikealo shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Yes, I am, but Dad, sometimes little boys just do not THINK of their Daddy." David snorted laughingly and stated wryly, "Isn't that the truth!" I had to think later, though, how often the same is true of me. There are so many times when I become focused on random, rather unimportant things rather than what is really meaningful. I think about my "stuff" instead of about my Abba, or long for silly things that I don't have instead of giving thanks for the countless good and perfect gifts with which He has already blessed me.
Then there's the way that Yikealo teaches me about forgiveness and grace. There is a reason that the Lord says that we are to become like little children - they understand unconditional love and forgiveness in ways that we adults forget at times. I'll give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was flying around in my typical hurry on Sunday morning, trying to get everything done before we left for church. I had ironed Yikealo's outfit and David's shirt, was cleaning up the breakfast dishes that my husband and son had left on the table, and getting ready to start on my hair. David walked through the kitchen while putting on his cologne and proceeded to drop the bottle onto the floor, splashing cologne everywhere, and making it almost impossible to breathe in the kitchen. Immediately afterward, Yikealo slobbered chocolate from a candy bar (that he was not even supposed to be eating) all down the front of his freshly washed and ironed shirt. Ummm.....let's just say that I did NOT respond with grace. I slammed some dishes down onto the counter, yelled something like "Why do the two of you always have to make such a MESS of everything?" and stormed off to the bedroom, where I sulked. That's also where God began to convict me about the serious attitude problem I was having: "Let's have a little talk, daughter dear, about the fruits of my Spirit, shall we? So your boys made some mistakes - you frequently make mistakes too. Just where were you exhibiting love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness or temperance a few moments ago? You need to apologize." I gave myself a little time to cool off, and then walked into Yikealo's room, where he was attempting to button his re-washed and blow-dried shirt. He gave me a very solemn look and whispered, "Mom, I'm really sorry I made a mistake." I knelt down beside him to look him in the eye, and said "Thank you, honey, but I was wrong to react like that. I'm sorry for yelling at you and Daddy. Can you forgive me?" His whole face brightened and he wrapped his little arms around my neck and squeezed. "Sure, Mom! Actually, I already DID forgive you!" Oh, melt my heart...yet another life lesson from my precious son - the willingness to forgive immediately and fully.
Thank You, Father, for bringing this beautiful child into my life. He is teaching me more about You and Your love every single day...