I smile at the quick response of thud, thud, thud, thud then her head peaks around the corner of the stairway, curls dangling over the banister. "Yes ma'am?" Cautious eyes wide and wondering.
Her eyes search mine and she's waiting. She knows she's been having a rough day. There has been an unusual amount of correction and discipline needed.
I smile to reassure her. "I wanted to tell you what I think about you. You know what that is, don't you?"
She pauses briefly, then says questioningly, seriously, "I'm not being a good girl today?"
No. No. Crushed under that sentence I try to laugh and smile a bigger smile to let her know what she already knows.
"No! That's not what I was going to say! Try again," another smile, "what am I thinking about you?"
She digs deeper. Looks around "You want me to do some school?"
My heart can't take it. I'm busting. I've randomly done this with her for the last three years, always the same question, always framed the same way, she has always known the answer. But she is sincerely stumped. Can't she see it in my eyes? She must not be looking at my face.
I urge her with all the sincerity I can muster in my voice "No. Selah, you know this, what am I thinking about you?"
Another heart-breaking moment passes then I see it light across her face. She knows. She grins it loud "You love me! You think I am beautiful."
"Yes!!..." the ache quietly throbbing in my chest, "yes, I love you. I think you are beautiful."
Her smile still glowing she turns back up the stairs "... I know mom, you tell me everyday..."
I sit still and don't move for quite some time. Thoughts pound and ache and settle slowly.
You say you know, that I tell you everyday, but it took you three times to answer correctly...
He wraps His arms around me. The Parent so used to being misunderstood. He's been calling me to come to Him. And I, struggling, flailing, disciplined, cautious and wide-eyed, both question and assume what He wants to say. I haven't been good today? He wants me to do something?
His whisper aches " don't I tell you everyday?..."
I open His Word, look long into His face. It's everywhere, Spirit-breathed in urgent sincerity:
"Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love..."
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
I remember what I know and I'm still learning that first lesson from yesterday... the greatest of these is Love.