I’m learning so much about my little 2 year old these days. I’m learning about how she learns, how she loves and how …she’s two. My chiropractor asked me how her ears have been (she struggled with ear infections most of last winter). I replied,
“Well you could take a peek at her ears. She has been awfully cranky lately so maybe her ears are bothering her? Or maybe she’s just two.”
We both laughed and she offered a story of her 5 year old having a huge tantrum in a public place. I cherish those vulnerable moments when mommies trust each other enough to say, ” This is hard but we’re all in this together.” Those judgement free zones have the power to push us through the “trying two’s” of life. I know not to call them terrible because there is so much good to balance it out!
One thing I’ve been learning about Afton is that it seems her top love language is touch. She hugs people that need love and she holds nothing back. We often have to remind her not to squeeze so hard! I admire that about her and I wish I was brave enough to reach out to people the way she does, with no inhibition at all. When she sees someone who looks like they are (in her words) having a “rough time,” she doesn’t think twice about rubbing their back or holding their hand.
Touch is not one of my top love languages. I think I barely speak it. I’m embarrassed to say, I find it inconvenient many times throughout the day when she insists it’s cuddle time, or in the car when she insists that we hold hands with her while she’s in her carseat. I don’t mind when people hug me, but I’m not usually the one to initiate them. If you’re sitting too close, or hug me more than once, I notice. I’m not saying it bothers me, I’m just keenly aware in a way that those of you who speak “touch” probably aren’t.
To give you some perspective, the students in my small group, and incidentally their entire class, could tell you a story of John and I early in our relationship having a DTR over why he took my hand while we were watching a movie. My line, “What were your intentions?!” is their favorite part to dramatically quote.
Poor guy didn’t know what hit him. I don’t think he really even noticed we were holding hands. Because he’s like Afton. His arms and his hands are an extension of his heart that is full of Jesus’ love. Afton, in her childlike state is unaware of social cues in a beautiful way. She reaches out to people that need loving on- adults and children alike. She loves on people that need it, without anyway of understanding how and why. She squeezes the daylights out of the people she loves to see. We have to tell her not to squeeze her friends so hard!
Holding hands and rubbing backs and loving on people through touch is second nature to her. She doesn’t worry about the relationship with the person, fear of an awkward hug or a refusal (though, who really could refuse), and I want to be more like that.
I want to be someone that sees the hurting person and isn’t too self-conscious to touch their shoulder and ask how they’re really doing. I want to be someone that hugs people tight not fearing the awkwardness of them being the first to let go. In my head, that’s what I picture when I think of loving others like Jesus did.
But when I’m confronted with the need, I barely use words to show love, let alone the body that’s made in the image of God. The age old question in regards to the self-conscious one’s question…”What do I do with these [arms]?” is answered here:
” And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Here’s what I’m wrestling with: How often does my own self-consciousness (read: the act of being more conscious of self than others) cause me to disobey the greatest commandment: love?
Love is more than hugs from a two year old, but it’s also more than a feeling or state of being “in.” It is, described in the Bible, as patient, kind, not self-seeking, and not easily angered ( 1 Cor. 13:4-8). It is described as a Man laying down his life for His friends (John 15:13). It is unbridled and selfless, like my Afton’s way of showing it.
I have a feeling that this is only a small piece of what Jesus meant when he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 1-5)