I love having a three year old. My youngest son is at that sweet age where he is right between being a toddler and a “big boy.” He still has that babyish cuddliness, but he can also understand and communicate so much better than when he was younger.
Every night, before he falls asleep, he loves to snuggle in my arms. We tell each other over and over how much we love each other. Moments like that are one of my favorite parts about being a mom!
One night, we were lying there in his bed and he said something that made my heart completely melt. He wrapped his sweet little arms around my neck, squeezed it tight, and said, “Mommy, keep me forever.”
In the days following, he started to use the phrase regularly. He would walk up to me arms outstretched for a hug and repeat those words, “Keep me forever, mommy.” My answer was always, “I will keep you forever!”
At first, I just thought of it as a sweet sentiment from my little guy. Then I wondered, why he would think of that in particular to say? Was there any doubt in his little heart that I would always keep him?? I hoped not! Haven’t I made him feel secure in how much I love and care for him? Doesn’t he know that I will love him forever?!
On the other hand, I also realized that as sweet as it is to hear those words, every mom knows that we can’t keep our kids forever, at least not in the physical sense. We will always keep them in our hearts, and in our lives. We will hold the memories of when they were little. We will always love each other. But babies grow into toddlers, who grow into little boys and girls, who grow into teenagers, who turn into adults. One day, my little boys won’t want me to “keep” them anymore, not like I do now. They will want to be on their own. And they should want that. It is good. I will have to let them go out from my arms and into the world.
I take comfort in knowing that although I can’t keep and protect my children all of their lives, there is someone who can. There is someone who loves them even more than I do, and He has the ability to hold and keep my sons every single day of their lives and for eternity. Those who belong to Him can never be snatched out of His loving care. He is the Good Shepherd, the same God who holds you and me, and every one of His children.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
So I began to reflect more on what lesson God might be teaching me through my son’s simple and precious words. Do I rest in the confidence that God can and will keep me forever? Do I question it, or think I need to remind Him? Do I worry or think that there could be any reason He might someday let me go, or stop loving and holding me? For those who trust in Christ, the security and permanence of God’s love is assured for all eternity. Yes, He can and He will keep us forever.
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
My little guy doesn’t say the phrase “keep me forever” very often anymore. I guess it was just something sweet that lasted for a little while and then faded away, like so many phases of childhood. Or maybe he’s satisfied with the answer and confident that he will be kept. Whatever the reason, it seems he doesn’t need to ask anymore.
One thing we do continue to say every day is how much we love each other, and how that will never, ever change or end.
My older son will ask questions like, “Mommy, do you still love me when I don’t listen?” or “Mommy, will you still love me when I am big?” I try to reassure him there is nothing that could ever make me stop loving him. And I tell him that most importantly there is nothing that could ever make God stop loving him. How secure it feels to be loved that much, and to never have to be afraid something could take that away! One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is found in Romans chapter 8.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If we belong to Christ, then nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s love! Nothing we are dealing with now or in the future can take it away. Not even death can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What a powerful and complete assurance. Now that is security!
I am so grateful for my children. I thank God for what He teaches me through their lives and their sweet words every day. I am so thankful above all for God’s love and that nothing can ever separate us from Him.
Thank You, God, for your unfailing, unending, unconditional love. Thank You, that You keep me forever!