Why do you smile at me?

{Originally published 5/28/11}

Until December of last year when our oldest turned four, we had three little kids ages three and under. Needless to say, life is pretty crazy and busy at our house! The two oldest, Clayton (4) and Ruby (3), are the best of buddies most of the time. When they’re not able to be together, for example in the nursery at church, tantrums and difficulty ensue, mostly on Ruby’s part. Because of that, as well as the business of life and choosing to do a large majority of our outings as a whole family, we haven’t done too many one-on-one things with the kids. A quick trip here or there, but nothing major, until today.

Daddy was going to help a friend move some things, and I suggested taking Clayton with him for the afternoon. The result was painful to watch and endure, as Ruby unraveled in sobs, not understanding why he got to go and she had to stay. Clayton, on the other hand, was very excited about being able to hang out with and help his dad. As they were leaving, after she said her tearful goodbyes, I tried to explain the situation to her:

“I know it doesn’t seem fair, honey, but it’s Clayton’s turn to have some one-on-one time with Daddy. It’ll be your turn next time.”

“It’s not that they don’t love you or want you to come. In fact, I’m sure they’d love that! It’s just important for you guys to have some one-on-one time with us every now and then.”

She just kept heaving and sobbing, not able to understand. “It’s not that he doesn’t like me, I just can’t go with him this time…” I heard her explaining to her dollies in her bedroom, where she retreated after they left, like she was being punished. My heart broke for her… I went in and encouraged her to come out and finish lunch with me and that after lunch we would have some Ruby and Mommy (and Toby, as she pointed out, since he was home with us) time, and we could do whatever she wanted. I got her some juice, a treat in our house, and she wanted to sit on my lap.

With time she was able to calm down, and she articulated a thoughtful question. “Why do you and Daddy smile at me?” she asked. I was able to tell her that we smiled at her because we loved her so much, that she was our beautiful little girl and she makes us happy. I was able to focus my energy and attention on her alone, as I’m sure Daddy was doing with Clayton, and encourage and affirm her in a way that just doesn’t (and can’t, really) happen in the craziness of everyday life. In our house, as well as others with multiple children I’m sure, whoever screams the loudest gets the attention, or the consequence. But during those couple hours, I was able to spend precious time with her. She decided that we should paint our nails and watch Tangled, and that’s what we did! I don’t know if she can articulate the importance of one-on-one time, but now I believe she understands it.

I think the same thing is true about spending one-on-one time with God, our Heavenly Father and Creator. In the chaos of life, it’s easy to push it aside and not get to it as frequently as we should, but it’s extremely important for each one of us. Without it, we can be left feeling like we just got lost in the shuffle, anxious, and insecure. There is a huge facet of our relationship with Him that can only be found, learned, and discovered in those quiet moments sitting at His feet and reading His Word. During that time He is able to teach us about His life and how to live, give us wisdom that only He can, and answer our deepest and vital questions about who we are and what He has for us in this life.

“Father, why do you smile at me?”

He has an answer for us if we are willing to listen. He smiles because He created us in our mother’s wombs. He smiles because He loves us with an unconditional and unfailing love, as only a holy, perfect Heavenly Father could. Have you spent some one-on-one time with your Father today? Let Him encourage and affirm you.