My son has started fighting my kisses. I guess I should have seen this day coming. Now that he’s seven years old, those days of snuggling his squishy baby cheeks are long gone.
But that doesn’t lessen the ache in this mama’s heart, doesn’t reduce my longing to show him how much I love him … how much I always will.
I’ve had to get sneakier when it comes to physical affection. I’ve discovered the one time I can press a kiss to his cheek unhindered is after he’s fallen asleep. When I tiptoe into his room to turn off his closet light, I study that cherub face that reminds me of days long gone. His face is slack, muscles relaxed, no fight to be found.
I slip over to the edge of his bed, press a feather-light kiss to his cheek, and linger to take in all the details God carved just for him.
My son may not be aware of my kiss, but I like to think his subsconscious warms, telling him he’s loved.
How often does God do this with me?
How often does He try to draw me close, but I push Him away out of embarrassment or self-sufficiency or even guilt, crushing His Big-Papa heart?
My pastor has taken several trips to Israel and talks about seeing the Hebrew word “Abba” in action. He paints a picture of little children running from their houses, jumping into their dads’ arms, and yelling “Abba! Abba!”
I know this scene all too well, because it has happened in my own home. When my kids were younger, they would greet my husband at the end of the work day with smiles and squeals, jumping and clamoring for his attention. “Daddy! Daddy!” Arms were raised high overhead, stretching toward Daddy, begging him to lift them toward the sky and tickle their bellies.
To children, everything in that moment seems right. They’re safe in Daddy’s arms. He’s strong; he won’t drop them. And the joy on his face says how much he loves them, delights in them.
Just like my Heavenly Father delights in me … if I’ll let Him.
So often I’m too busy to give Him a warm greeting. Supper needs to be cooked. Homework needs to be supervised. Emails need to be addressed.
Or sometimes it’s inconvenient or embarrassing. If I pray in the restaurant before lunch, what will my coworkers think? Or if I take ten minutes to read my Bible, I might not have time to fix my hair the way I wanted.
Or what about guilt? God doesn’t want anything to do with me. Not after what I did last week.
I justify these things as necessary for survival. But really, they’re a form of stiff-arming God, telling Him to stay away, because now isn’t a good time to love me.
And each of these moments adds a splinter to His heart.
The amazing thing is He carved me in His own image. He picked each of my features — all the details that make me click. When He looks at me, He sees that little seed of a baby He formed, and His heart swells with love.
Even though I’ve grown, He still longs to spend time with me, to draw me close and share His presence and love.
But as long as I push Him away, I’ll miss out.
I’ll miss out on the guidance He gives. I’ll miss out on the joyous freedom of being held high in His arms. I’ll miss out on the warmth of His love.
Only when I let go of the fight — when I slacken my muscles, unclench my jaw — can I feel the divine kiss of God’s presence.
A gift He longs to give.