“Can you recall a time when you were a child when you experienced comfort?”
I read this question first in a book all about how to make good connection with your spouse in marriage (How We Love). I was just a few pages into the book, when I realized the significance of this question. In fact, its significance goes way beyond marriage.
In this article, I want to encourage us to see how this question relates to our most important “work” as a Christian, first and foremost, and then as a daughter in His Kingdom. So let’s start by first considering that question again. Consider it until a picture comes to mind.
Maybe you can think of a time with you skinned a knee or fell out of a tree. Maybe you can think of a time you were comforted when a favorite pet died or when a friend rejected you.
But maybe you don’t remember being comforted at all.
Maybe you don't remember being comforted at all.
This was the case with me. My parents were well intentioned, but I don’t remember being comforted during big moments of my early childhood years. As I’ve pondered this question over the past years, I’ve begun changing out the word “comfort” for “safe.” Afterall, this is the emotion being “comforted” provides. So let me ask you this:
Can you recall a time you felt safe as a young child?
When I asked myself this question, I was immediately transported back to a time from my early childhood. I was crawling up onto my grandma’s large, rather squishy, mostly southern, lap. I had a book in hand and was delighted to see my grandma’s inviting smile. She appeared equally delighted to be spending time with me.
I recalled her warm gaze, big smile with her sparkling white false teeth, and her belly laugh that jostled me happily while the sun shone through our large living room window casting a cheerful ray of light through the room. At that moment, I sensed I could do nothing to bother her. She seemed “unbotherable.” (I’m declaring that a word today.) As I thought back to this memory, I realized what emotion this gave me:
Safe-I felt 100% safe just being me.
When I sat with someone who was unbotherable, I was safe to be me. I could say the wrong things; and not receive a disapproving “look” or a verbal scolding. I could ask for another cookie, and not be shamed with the question, “are you sure you should have another one?!” I could ask for another story, and the request would be granted – and not only granted, but granted with a smile, as if it was a pleasure to spend time with me.
Could this be true?! Could there be someone who enjoyed being with me?!
As I reflected on this experience of being with my Grandma, I realized that a part of God’s character was reflected in her.
And this is where the connection is made:
God, too, is “unbotherable” by His children. Time and time again he patiently corrects. He calls us sheep – the stupidest animal known to man – and yet he tells of how He leads us and cares for us as sheep. Peter Scazzero, a modern day pastor and champion for emotional health, says “Rest is our first work.”
When we feel safe with the Living God, it is then that we can rest in Him.
We no longer have to be driven by performance and measuring up.
We no longer have to try so hard.
We no longer have to be consumed trying to fix everyone else.
We can rest in HIS work, not our own.
Here’s the great news about this; in receiving His love I am growing the capacity to extend it to others with more and more patience and grace.
From this place of safety and acceptance in Christ, I’ve found freedom to release others from my toxic expectations. I now more naturally walk in the fruit of the Spirit and extend grace and patience where I once only gave criticism and judgement.