“Ah, Mama is here. My needs are met. I am safe. I am loved.”
What do babies feel when they coo adoringly and respond to affection?
“This feels good. I feel good.”
Here’s what I’ve realized since I’m a mom: It’s not enough to say, “I love you.” (Which I do a gazillion times a day, followed by buckets of kisses and snuggles.)
It would be silly of me to expect that my child feels my love when she is screaming from hunger. Empty bellies are hard to reason with. Suddenly, I realize how well God cares for me.
I think our children need to get pleasure from us. Like. Every day. It’s not rocket science. Why would a child trust a parent who only caused pain? Why would a child be inclined to be obedient to a parent who never plays with him or her?
It might be easy to think, “Life is going to be hard, so get used to the struggle, little girl.”
It’s true, we will all experience pain in life, but that pain is the result of a disconnected (from Christ) humanity. I don’t want that pain to ever come from me.
We are made for pleasure. I don’t care how un-churchy that sounds; it’s true. We, as humans, lack the ability to endure what we never enjoy. This doesn’t make us wimpy; it’s a reflection of design. Even the same can be said of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He endured the cross for the joy set before Him.
“Play before work,” might seem counterproductive, but I think pleasure is the premise we build our endurance on. It’s the Eden playground where God first imagined us into being.
Honestly, believers are out of practice in the pleasure department. We’ve spent so much precious time building cases against carnal pursuits that we’ve lost the innocence of play with our Father. I don’t want my daughter to experience that disconnect.
Pleasure is like a drug, and we were made for the real stuff. Connection with the Holy Spirit is the only high that truly satisfies, yet keeps you coming back for more. Connection is the only substance overdose that can keep you sober and smart to overcome the hard times.
Jesus gave a special promise for His kids. He said, “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” Basically, the only pain we will experience from our Dad is growing pains that make us strong and beautiful and effective.
We practice for the hard stuff in the connection and intimacy of relationship.
I pray that my joy and our play can even be a small reference point for the playfulness and strength of the Father’s heart for my daughter.
So today and tomorrow and the next day, I will set off those little endorphins in my baby daughter’s brain. I will look into her eyes when I feed her. I’ll make them twinkle with giggles at bathtime, and I’ll kiss those little toes.
© Brenda Kanagy
note: photo credits go to Di Hostetler