“You don’t love me!,” Thomas hurls at me when I ask to change his diaper before bed.
This was preceded by:
“Thomas, please come here so that Mama can change your diaper before bed.”
“Thomas, Mama loves you and wants what’s best for you. If we don’t change your diaper you will get a rash.”
And here it is:
“You dooon’t love me!”
After giving Thomas a long blank stare, the first thing that came into my mind and out of my mouth was, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
And I must confess that even though I knew it was ridiculous, my feelings were hurt. At the end of the work week, at the end of the night, my toddler’s accusation hurt my feelings.
It hooked into my insecurities of not loving as patiently as I want to when I am tired after work, not loving as attentively as I desire to when I prioritize being productive over the “inactivity” of total presence to my children; the insecurity of not being with my children all the time because of also having a professional life.
While my emotions and insecurities swirled, I simultaneously had a clear thought come through my mind, “God you get this accusation all the time, and, unlike me, you are the perfect parent.” (As an aside, this is not a pity party on my motherhood. I know that I am both a tremendously loving mother and have many ways to grow in love.)
Our accusations to God resound in various tones: “God, you don’t love me. You have forgotten me. This suffering is happening in my life, so you must not care for me, or maybe you are even punishing me. God, you are indifferent to me. God you are far away from me.”
We are not so different from our foremothers and forefathers in Scripture:
“How long, Lord? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13: 2)
“If only we would die here in the wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land only to have us fall by the sword?” (Numbers 14: 2-3)
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?” (Psalm 22: 2)
This makes me think of two things.
First, doubt, trial, and suffering are part of the life of faith. Our doubt, trial and suffering can feel unbearable. They wear us down and try our spirits. If, however, we keep God in our minds and hearts and bodies as we endure, there will be new life. New life isn’t only something for the next life- Jesus is with us in our suffering and can transform our suffering into new life here and now.
Second, God hasn’t left us and does love us (even when we don’t think God’s doing a good job of showing it):
“With an age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)
“Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4: 10-12)
God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us to believe in and accept your love for us today. Even when we act like we don’t want your love or can’t feel your love, give us the hope and courage to reach out to you. Inspire us to be faithful to you as you are eternally faithful to us. Amen.