Baby Kadence is the newest addition to our family, just a few day’s shy of being 5 months old. I had the joy of visiting my sister and brother-in-law to-be, baby girl and other members of my family a week and a half ago. Let me tell you, little Kadence is growing up so fast- exploring her surroundings as she makes sense of the new world around her.
While visiting, I had the opportunity to practice my emerging mothering skills by babysitting her for the day. And what a day it was! For a person that has limited experience with infants, it reinforced that stay-at-home parents have a fulltime job. But one that is rewarding and worth every minute.
As living creatures we learn about the world around us through our senses. This is probably most profound and evident in our young, who are experiencing things for the first time, curiosity running wild. Kadence slept late the morning I babysat her. When she finally roused from sleep at 10am, I was positioned over her head, peering down on her. Because she is so beautiful and precious I can’t help but smile when I see her. What can I say- I love my niece. And she loves her auntie!
Seeing the welcoming expression on my face, she responded with a huge smile, letting me know she was ready to enjoy some quality time together. That was my cue to pick her up. The care in which I did so and natural warmth of my body alerted her to the safety that lay in my arms.
Next, it was time for breakfast. I have never desired to taste baby formula. There’s nothing about it that makes me want to sneak a sip. But, when that bottle appears, you can’t tell that girl nothing! She goes in for it and enjoys it down to the last drop. The taste of nourishment satisfies her carving (at least for a little while). I imagine, even if only for the moment, in her eyes, the person that fixed the bottle and fed her is the best person in the world.
Later that afternoon, when first her daddy and then her mom returned home, all she needed to hear were their voices. She was alerted to the fact that the two most important people in her life were there. Her natural state of happiness was intensified, no doubt because she knew a new level of entertainment was just moments away. (If you know anything about her parents you know exactly what I mean. Those two are nuts! In a good way.) And being held in their arms, breathing in their familiar scents, surely provided an extra layer of security. These familiar routines, day after day, are her building blocks for understanding love at it’s most fundamental and purest state.
I love it how God shares Himself with me! Often times it is in the most simple and natural ways that He speaks or reinforces. See, on January 2nd, with lights off, laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, this was my prayer: “Speak to me.” For 3 nights, He did just that.
It was the 2nd day, January 3rd, that I was given this simple command- “Love with your senses”. It was actually communicated through a dream. In the dream there were a couple different scenarios of love being expressed through the senses. The most vivid one was of an older Asian couple (I swear it was the husband and wife team that manage the parking lot on H Street NW in DC. You know, the one in Chinatown, in the alley near Vapianos!) They displayed how love feels. It was safe, it was warm, it was easy- not forced, and it was enduring, as it had no end. I also saw love. Not through their actions but in the color that radiated from her. The color was red. Not the color of passion. No, it was intensity, fierceness. It was unrelenting and unashamed. And yes, it was the color of redemption, salvation. A sacrificing and unwavering love.
Now, I am trying to really internalize what it means to love others through my senses. The biggest challenges are:
1. Not to take it too literal, while still not overthinking it.
2. Love in a way that is meaningful to others.
Again, the command brings me back to prayer. Because not only does prayer reveal, it also empowers and sustains. Thus, necessitating a constant posture of prayer. So, my prayer now is for God to show me how to love others through my senses in the same way He loves them. For, He always knows what we stand in need of, even before we do ourselves.
If I left it up to my perception of love and personal assessment of what others need, I may try to console a broken heart with chocolate cake (dessert cures everything! Right?) when what God knows they need is a listening ear that won’t judge, won’t try to fix it but will just listen. This requires being vulnerable and uncomfortable. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Jesus ever did the easy, safe or comfortable thing to show love, care and concern. Instead, He put Himself out there, susceptible to scrutiny and accusations all in an attempt to love individuals in a way that touched their core! So, why would God expect anything different from me?
This command also requires me to be attentive, because it usually is a small little voice or nudging that suddenly prompts me to act. In the few occasions I’ve done this, the acts have been small and I’m not at all sure of the impact, but I will take it on faith that it is doing exactly what God intended.
Honestly, I am still processing what all this means and how to discern and be obedient to His promptings. Therefore, you may see me refine my thinking here in the future. Or, maybe you have some insight on this? Please share! ‘Cause just like little Kadence, I’m trying to experience as much as possible, growing in all areas of my life as I try to walk in the ways of God, loving and being loved in a way that He honors. It isn’t going to be easy or always work out how I imagined. Nothing worth doing ever is or does. But rest assured, if we remain committed, it will all work for our good, according to His perfect plan.