Who Cuts Up a Three-Year-Old’s Blankie?

Lori 2016I’m afraid I won’t say things right in this post.

In it, I speak to children I’ve known – abused, confused, neglected, rejected, alone. But, I’m writing, too, to the broken children inside us all. I’m afraid I won’t say this clearly, but here goes.

It is no favor we do to love another. Even one we’ve stretched to love – an enemy, an offending neighbor, or a wayward child. God is love and so, to participate in love – to give or to receive – is a win. Either way.

Love is worthwhile even if it’s not reciprocated. Even if it’s entirely rejected. Even if it’s slips through the other’s soul like spaghetti water through a strainer. Even love down the drain is a win because we’ve engaged in an act of godliness. To love is to be like God. To love is to reclaim the image in which we were created. To love is no favor we do for another because to love is to participate in the beating of God’s heart. To believe love is a kindness or a favor to another is a lie of the soul.

And yet, some mouth this lie to their own children.

You’re six-years-old and can’t sit still. Sometimes you kick and scream. The grown-ups in your house say you’re a problem. Of child-594519_1920course, they never factor you in when planning their day. They forget you need to eat regularly and sleep on time. You’ve already had more addresses than I’ve had in five decades. When you receive a gift of new clothes you inhale the smell of new and rub the material against your cheek, relishing the experience like a trip to Disney. It makes sense to me, your screaming.

girl-869205_1920And you, you’re fourteen, tall, and overweight. You’ve dyed your hair purple so people think you don’t care what they think. You cannot see your own beauty. You’re scary smart but your life has interfered with your grades so you feel like a fool. Your mom says you’ve never experienced anything traumatic so you don’t bother to contradict her because all you’ve known is trauma except she calls it “stuff everyone goes through.” They don’t, but saying that won’t change your story.

And then, there’s you. You’re three-years-old and you call me “safety lady,” becausechild-clutching-blanket-250 every time I visit I point out dangers the grown-ups in your home refuse to see. You crawl up beside me with your blankie and offer me a corner to hold while you rub the sweet spot on the other side. One day, you whisper into my ear that you’re sad. Your mom says she cut your blankie into pieces to teach you not to cry just because she kicked your daddy out. She admits to worse things but that sheared blankie haunts me still.

You’re lucky, she lies, lucky that she’s taking care of you. She didn’t have to even have you, so she’s doing you a favor to love you at all. Or so she tells you.

And the fourteen-year-old hears that she’s lucky her mother’s boyfriend has done her the favor of loving her. He doesn’t have to, don’t you know? You’re not even his kid but he still gave you a ride to the doctor when you were sick.

And the six-year-old hears that her parents are doing her a great favor to love her, too. Their parents gave them up to the state so she’s lucky they love her even when they forget to feed her or keep her warm at night.

This is the worst kind of lie, the notion of love as a favor. What they offer as love isn’t even close. Like disguising chalk as chocolate or exchanging mud for water. Offering chalk to a hungry heart or mud to a thirsty soul is no favor.

When you offer love to another, you enter into the act of love, and that is a favor you do for yourself.

Love is a gain for everyone involved. Loving someone is like singing a song and finding someone to listen or writing a story and finding someone to read it.

Children, love is a circuit and your existence completes it. You’re not an accident, a mistake, or someone else’s child. You’re a treasure, a precious gift, a jewel, and a desirable soul. Be a colander to the lies but let any love you receive catch hold in your soul. Don’t let any earthly tremor shake it loose.

God is love. God knew perfect love before the creation of the world. Love is such a treasure; He created humanity to experience it. Even knowing the sorrow we’d bring Him. Knowing we’d fall. Knowing we’d fail. He risked it all for love. Even His only Son.

Loving another is never a favor we do for them. To withhold love, to be devoid of love, to disengage from love (which is to be separate from God,) this is an atrocity, a sorrow of the deepest order, an eternal failing, a plunge into weakness, not a strength or a win. Perfect love casts out fear. Love is stronger than death.

In Christ, we are able to love the way He loved us. In Christ, we receive a Holy invitation to engage in the act of love, to enter God’s heart and emerge transformed. Blessed are all you are free to love.

Child, to love you is no favor. To love you is to be like God. Blessed is the godly woman or man who loves you.

I’m trying so hard to say this, I’ve probably been unclear. The bottom line? Love is no favor we do for another. The greatest achievement in life is not to find love – it’s to find one’s self capable of loving another.

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    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    ‘Even love down the drain is a win because we’ve engaged in an act of godliness. To love is to be like God. To love is to reclaim the image in which we were created. To love is no favor we do for another because to love is to participate in the beating of God’s heart’.

    Don’t be afraid, Lori, you said it beautifully. In fact, you made me cry. To love, whether a child or an adult is cheap–it doesn’t cost a dime, and YET we stingily withhold it for those we deem worthy. The love of God loved me when I was unlovely. He picked me up, dirty and bloody, and gave me new life. With that in mind, we ought to be the BEST givers of love there are. I hope all that read your post get this. God bless, honey.

  2. Sue says:

    Lori–you said it beautifully, heartbreakingly. Decades ago I was a social worker in families where child abuse was confirmed. You’ve reminded me of the sad too-old children I knew, and their angry parents, who without exception had been abused themselves. God calls us to be as he is in this world. To cherish, protect, and tell his truth. You do that consistently in your blog, never more than in this one about the cut-up blankie. May God continue to speak through you.

  3. Lori, you said it beautifully!

    Love as a favor is given out of the goodness of our hearts and often insinuates that the recipient isn’t worth the effort. Love as a bribe lets the recipient know that they are not loved – it’s their behavior that is loved. Either of those cheapen God’s love.

    God loves is pure, not caring about our worthiness or our behavior. He only wants us to rest in Him and to become the unique people He designed us to be. This is the love we should give to a child.

  4. Your message comes through, loud and clear, Lori. Oh, to be more sensitive and in a continual state of agape love. Thank you for sharing yours. God bless.