Our Cavernous Need to be Enjoyed

I was such a busy mom.

I hope I haven’t lost you already by using the b-word or given you the impression you are twenty-five words into an Op-Ed piece entitled Back in My Day.

Still. I raised my children in a day when busy was admittedly less busy than busy is today. It was a time when disposable diapers were just emerging, a play-date meant seeing cousins at the occasional birthday party, soccer moms hadn’t yet been invented and social media wasn’t in the dictionary.

But the busy I was guilty of practicing is the worst kind of busy of all–the most destructive busy.

I was busy in my head.

I didn’t realize it then, in those pre-diagnoses days, how un-present I actually was or how disconnectedly I navigated my life.

I’m tempted to sling around some caustically self-deprecating content right here but I’m going to refrain and include, instead, that I remember being an affectionate mother who took good physical care of her babies. I definitely wasn’t the worst as mothers go. Motherhood was my purpose and provided me with an identity, which dear reader, is an entirely separate confession and conversation for another time.

The sad truth is that my parenting style was geared less to each individual child and more group directed, like that of an overbred dog tending her litter of pups.

As a grandmother, on the other hand, I am and have always been all in when it comes to being engaged and present. When my grandchildren appear, my face reveals the joyous love I have for them and the extreme delight I take in being with them. When I’m with them they are all that I see; they are all I care about at that moment. They don’t get my absentminded uh huhs and preoccupied that’s nice honey.

To enjoy them is effortless and obvious. 

Child cannot live by grandmother alone so I’m happy my perfectly wonderful little cherubs have parents who provide the discipline and limits I do not. I’m equally happy to produce the pom-poms their parents don’t always have time to shake.

And, the truth is, I secretly hope that in some small way my children’s observation of me with their children might serve as a balm of comfort to any wounds I inflicted upon them.

The adage is true,

You survived childhood so you can survive anything!  

And here’s why I mention this at all. I’m not so sure abuse and emotional neglect had as much of a devastating impact on my life as growing up without the assurance that I was loved and wanted and enjoyed. Without those components, which I believe we were created to require, I did not come to know that I had worth as a person, that I was an individual with God-given dignity, separateness, and the security of one fully welcomed and embraced.

Knowing that you belong to the human race or to your family is different than knowing you are an individual who knows what it means to be enjoyed.

My granddaughter Ruby was born six years after my daughter gave birth to her third son. Each of Leah’s children was joyously anticipated but Ruby’s arrival was extra special because she was a daughter! This little girl-child was born into a company of people who absolutely adored her and from day one of her existence, this joy cherub was surrounded by the faces of beaming brothers as well as parents, relatives, and friends who delighted in her. Their responses affirmed her desirability.

Ruby was nurtured in a way that left her absolutely certain, even later in the face of life disruptions, that she is loved, desired, delighted in, and deeply enjoyed.

“For the Lord your God is living among you…He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zeph. 3:17 NLT

I was a few decades into my life with Christ before I could truly wrap my heart around the concept that Almighty God is a real Dad who wants me around; that He loves spending time with me; that He delights in me, nurtures me and rejoices over me…with songs even!

During my emotional seizures, this truth doesn’t sit neatly inside me. In those times of imbalance, I am too easily able to produce fickle reasons why it is true for everyone else but not me. I have learned, even while in the throws of periodic mental health storms, to accept this fact. It’s not always easy.

I must remind myself that my experiences and emotions cannot strip Truth of its truthiness. 

I can’t go back and experience a better childhood and I’m not allowed a do-over for the ways I neglected to assure my children of their desirability and wantedness.

In my post-parenting state of regret, I’ve determined to display delight in my adult children when I’m with them.  Hopefully, my enjoyment of them is palpable for them.

Do you find yourself unable to wrap your heart around the truth that God delights in you, enjoys you and loves you with a heart of gladness? May I challenge you to write Zephaniah 3:17 on a piece of paper and read it out loud every hour, on the hour, each day, for twenty-one days? Oh no! Another formula you say! I dare you to try it!

You are desired and you are enjoyed. You truly are loved with God’s heart of gladness and delight.

There’s another good reason to make peace with our need for experiencing what it is to be enjoyed. We get to pass it down and pass it along. How much do you suppose it would encourage those we come into contact with if we greeted and/or received them with genuine expressions of delight? What if our countenance and our actions expressed a message of:

There you are! It’s so good to be with you! Tell me everything.

I think you’ll agree that this world is full of hurting hearts and scrappy upbringings; full of people who could use a few more reminders of their God-given immutable dignity and right to be enjoyed.

We can do this.

7 thoughts on “Our Cavernous Need to be Enjoyed

  1. Thank you for the “truthiness!” I love the way you write. I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I was sure relating to that regretful feeling of not being fully “present” when I should have been when a child walked into the room, back in the day. I remember an instance of what one young son did to remind me that he mattered. I was busy staring at the computer, consumed with my ever so important duty. He had been standing next to me, not so patiently waiting for some sign of recognition. He took my face in his hands and gently turned it towards him. Sigh. I woke up out of my daze and gasped inwardly at my callousness to his presence. I tried to be better after that. I remember hearing Zephaniah 3:17 for the first time. As a young adult, who didn’t quite feel that I was living up to my parents or work expectations, the fact that God was “singing over me,” was so extraordinary. Yet, all these years later, I still have to remember that and immerse my self in the truth of God’s word and good devotionals to keep that kind of love alive, especially when I am wrestling with insecurity. God is for me. Love myself in that grace. Love others. Extravagantly. And practice really “seeing” people. It can make a difference. Off I go to “enjoy” some special humans today. Thanks.

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    1. Oh Shari! Thank you for faithfully reading and for taking the time to comment. Your words encourage me more than you know. Speaking of words…you have a beautiful way of expressing yourself! Do you write? I love what you’ve shared! I pray the truth of God’s word continues to displace any insecurity you may be feeling about your loveability and worth! Bless you, friend!

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  2. Shari- Your writing is so honest and encouraging. You have such a gift, and it blessed me this morning! I loved reading Zephaniah 3:17. I love the thought of God rejoicing over me-whether I feel I deserve it or not. He is always there, singing a happy song, and what a wonderful thing to remember! We are moving to Spokane in December to be closer to our grandkids. 😍 We want to be “all in”! The “extreme delight” I feel when I’m with my grandkids is something I wanted them to feel on a daily basis. I can’t wait to share life with them! I know you moved as well- let me know how close you are to Spokane! Would love to see you sometime… thank you again for sharing your life, and bringing such encouragement and hope to others. Sending you my love… ❤️ Jill

    P.S.- I’m going to see Gail tomorrow night for a little going away dinner. 😊

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    1. Hello Sweet Jill! How nice to see you here!! Thank you, always, for reading and commenting. ❤️ It’s WONDERFUL news to hear that you are moving to Spokane to be near your peeps! Kathy and her husband were here last weekend and your lovely name came up and now to hear that you will be nearer is such wonderful news! I’m in Newport, a little over an hour from Spokane! I’ll email you! Give Gail greetings!! 🤗

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