My child is running at me. Tears mark her face, which displays an erupting anger and sadness. I scoop her into my arms, feeling the tug of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
In this current season, our house has felt like a battleground. The lovely moments are sparse, and the unruly, messy moments are frequent. Even in times of peace, the threat of renewed turbulence lingers.
In this space, I’ve become quick to correct my daughter. I’ve become worn down and impatient. When my daughter approaches me with all her feelings aflame, I snap. I’m quick to address her behavior before addressing her. That changed for me today.
It was a gentle nudge and a question: Does God have requirements for how we must behave when we come to Him?
No way. He opens His loving arms to us, whether we are thankful and overflowing with joy or furious and frazzled. He is ready for relationship with us, constantly available and eager. His arms are wide open. His love is extended to us before anything else.
This is good news for me today. I am in need of an accepting God. Just like my little daughter, I can come flailing and frantic, in need of a love that says, “I’m here. Come as you are.”
Because our God is a God of come-as-you-are, He expects me to be a bit messy.
I don’t have to have every hair in place, everything neat and tidy. I can stop striving to have every area of my life ordered and figured out.
Instead, I can come to God with all the mess and all the desperation. When I do, I’m greeted by grace. And when I let that grace sink into my bones, not only does it soften my heart for my child, it softens my heart for others. I am better equipped to listen with His ears to my lonely neighbor. I can see His longing for my brother or sister on the street. I can lay down my self-interest in order to share His love with my husband. I can open my arms and exude His love to my child.
God’s love melts my criticism and frees me up to trust Him and love freely.
The message of God’s love and ever-present grace will never be redundant. In fact, this is a story we need to tell ourselves every day. God is here for us. His love and grace are sufficient for us. We don’t need to alter ourselves before approaching Him. Approaching Him is our best human attempt at love — our best bet when we are beaten and raising our flags of surrender. May we never tire of telling ourselves this story.
As I wrap my arms around my child, may I be reminded to open my arms to others. As I wipe her tears, may I think of the One who wipes our tears — the One who invites us to dry the tears of others. May I be reminded that we are all in need of saving, all full of turmoil, all children of God.