Friday night at our house is sleepover night. Each week, I have a movie night and sleepover with a different child. They get to pick a movie and eat treats – on the couch! – and have a special night just with mom. The girls look forward to it for weeks.
My 3 year old had her first sleepover a few weeks ago and she was so excited she couldn’t sit. She was dancing along to every Disney song in the movie and even after the movie ended she couldn’t settle down. After several attempts to calm her down, I told her that if she didn’t lay down we would have to end the sleepover and she would have to go back to her bedroom to sleep.
She angrily laid down on her pillow, our heads near each other in the middle of the couch. After a moment, I told her, “I love you.” Her angry response was, “I don’t love you.”
Her stinging words hung in the air. I could have easily responded with a lesson telling her that words like that hurt. I could have insisted that it wasn’t true and that she should apologize to me for saying something like that. I could have pouted and made it about me.
Instead I responded, “That’s okay. You don’t have to love me, but I will always love you no matter what.” As we lay in the quiet, I couldn’t help but think that I respond to God like that. How many prayers have I prayed bartering for what I want, “God, if you just….. I promise I will…”. How often have I tried to do things my own way because I didn’t trust God. I haven’t said it out loud, but how many times have I told God in my heart that I don’t love him because I didn’t like the way things were. I make my relationship with God conditional or I don’t respond lovingly. And yet, God still love me. And God still loves you. No matter what we do (or don’t do!), no matter how we respond (or don’t respond!), God will always love us – even if we choose not to love God, today or ever, God will love us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)
While I reflected, I became grateful to God that He loves me regardless of what I do. All of a sudden, a little hand reached across our pillows, grabbed mine and my daughter quietly said, “Mom, you’re my best friend.”
Christine is the Lead Pastor at ARK United Methodist Church, a church replant in North Sioux City, SD. She is wife to Matthew, a foster, adoptive and bio mom to 6 kids, volunteers as a Client Advocate at Her Health Women’s Center and an aspiring chicken homesteader leaning on the grace and hope of God amidst life’s messes.