By the time my daughter was a toddler, she wasn’t interested in being rocked to sleep. She impatiently obliged and allowed me to read one book before she climbed into bed.
Always, my book of choice was the tattered, tear-stained copy of Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. And though it’s been packed away for years, the memory of reading his book while rocking both my children to the cadence of its rhythm swaddles my heart on the hardest days.
The story is like a magic carpet ride giving the reader a glimpse of a mother’s love through every changing phase of her son’s life. No matter how old or difficult the child became, the mother always found a way to sneak into his room after he was asleep in order to rock him and sing him this lullaby:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
Her persevering love was tough– forever and for always.
But the fictional challenges she encountered during her parenting journey seem minor compared to the actual hardships many of us currently face.
I doubt it’s possible to feel the same sweet sentiments when curfew has been broken again and again. Or when you’re uncertain of your child’s location in the middle of the night. Or when the phone rings at 3 a.m. with your child asking for bail.
Can a mother continue to sing lullabies of love to the child who has slammed a door in her face, betrayed her trust, stolen from her purse, or secretly dropped out of college?
Maybe the better question isn’t “Can she?” but “Will she?”
Will she love her child when a guilty sentence is served? Will she be there to catch her child who is falling into a downward spiral? Will she fight the negative responses when the pregnancy test is positive? Will she travel the long road to recovery with the one who pursues sobriety? Will a mother’s love endure the pain of rejection and exhaustion of her child’s mental illness?
You bet she will. Because the lullaby we read isn’t a cute, wishful-thinking rhyme; it’s a promise we make and an action we take.
The enduring love in a mother’s heart is tough– it’s forever and for always.
It cannot be erased with a few late nights, an outburst of angry words, or the bang of a judge’s gavel. It won’t wash in and out on a tide of hormonal waves or the poor choices made under the influence.
Tough love cradles and rocks, teaches and prays, listens and observes, clings and hopes.
And then it prays some more.
Tough love is patient and kind; it does not envy and isn’t proud. Tough love doesn’t dishonor others and isn’t self-seeking. It isn’t easily angered and keeps no record of wrong. Tough love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Tough love never fails! (1 Corin. 13, paraphrase)
The day we’re entrusted with a child of our own is the day this love, this promise, and this sweet sentiment is permanently tattooed on our hearts and imprinted in our souls.
And we didn’t learn it from a nursery rhyme. The tough love we possess is a gift from the Giver of perfect gifts. God’s love for us fills us with His forever and for always tough love.
God’s perfect tough love never gives up on a wayward child.
His tough love followed us down every bumpy road we’ve traveled, heard every word we’ve spoken, and knows our darkest secret. And yet, God still loves us, cares for us, and stays with us in spite of all He has seen, heard and known about us.
God’s tough love for us is the reason we express our tough love for our prodigals– forever and for always.
Is it hard? Yes! Is it filled with doubts and questions? Yes! Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Our willingness to persevere with our loved ones is proof of how much God has reshaped us into a cup filled with His tough love.
The love God imparts wells up within, ready to lavishly spill over our hurting, needy, and lost children. It isn’t weak, insufficient, or a trickle. Tough love is a mighty river gushing down a ravine so fiercely they can’t help but be swept away in the current.Our children don’t grab onto it, but tough love grabs onto them and carries them downstream until they meet the calm, steady arms of the waiting Father. Click To Tweet
While we wait under the influence of our Father’s tough love, may our babies know how much we will “Love them forever and like them for always.” And may they come to understand their need for God’s perfect tough love that never dies, never fades, and never gives up.
Waiting with you,