by Julia Sterne
October 19, 2018
5 min read
It’s the first day of school. I have those jitters; the “oh I hope I make a friend, I hope someone sees me and likes my outfit and wants to sit by me at lunch” jitters.
I am 35.
“Aren’t I too old for this?“ The slightly judgemental inner critic questions.
“It’s not even your first day of school, crazy lady,” she continues.
And she is correct. It is technically not my first day of school, but that of my 5-year-old daughter. She is starting kindergarten and as we walk to the school courtyard for the first time, I feel the same feelings I had every year as a child.
“Will I be loved?” That lovely childlike voice inside so bravely opens up the rawest part of my humanity.
As if in slow motion I see the kids through the fence. Some are running wild, comfortable to return to their school after the summer break, eagerly looking for a companion from the previous year. Some are holding parents hands or even hiding behind grown-up legs. I actually wish for a giant leg to cling to.
Then I see the parents. How similar their faces appear. That bewildered look, taking in the noise and newness. Some stand arms crossed, some chatting with old friends, some finding safety in the arms of their own child.
That sameness expressed on every human face, no matter the age, I immediately recognized in my child’s face and in mine. The iconic Audrey Hepburn put it this way, “We all want to be loved, don’t we? Everyone looks for a way of finding love. It’s a constant search for affection in every walk of life”
Everybody wants to be loved. Could it be that simple?
As a counsellor, I have a tendency to overanalyze and pontificate and theorize human behaviours, motives, desires. I would have rather enjoyed lengthy discussions with the likes of Freud and Jung.
We are rather simple creatures. We were made in love, to be loved and to love in return. As God is love, his heart-shaped thumbprint is ingrained in our chest. And how it aches some days. The valleys between the ridges are thirsty for love, soaking in anything we can get. And in seasons of abundance, the valleys fill, overflow, and pour out to those around us.
As we walked through the gate, one of the hundreds present looking for love, I felt free. I was aware of my desire to be loved, but I was no longer afraid of it or ashamed of it. I felt that sense of common humanity which makes way for vulnerability. I no longer wanted to hide or run away or hold my child as my shield (sorry, but unfortunately we parents do that sometimes).
We were made in love, to be loved and to love in return.
I can only share this as a gift from the Spirit of the living God. This moment of observation was met with his gracious truth. I feel I was given heavenly spectacles to see how God sees us. He sees that ache in us. He also sees the many strategies we have to deflect our need for love, hide away in shame, overcompensate in grand gestures, or act too cool for school. And he wants to draw near, to place his hand on your aching chest, to cup your face in his hand so you can stare into his eyes, eyes that understand and adore you.
And as the Spirit worked in my heart, I felt his compassion for humanity, his compassion for his creatures. A desire to smile warmly and genuinely, to offer kindness even through eye contact, to hold the hand of the child lost in the crowd, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other parents, upholding one another in the emotional release of our most precious possessions into the care of strangers.
The Holy Spirit wanted to be there, to meet the needs for love, care and connection. In crude terms, it was like a soup of human neediness and he wanted to dive in.
It made me think of Mr. Rogers, a quiet presence of love and acceptance for all children. It made me think of Mother Teresa, a woman who so loved those who had been heartlessly discarded, dying and desperate. It made me think of Jesus, secured in his own love and endlessly offering his presence, power and love to those around him. The ministry of God’s love to humanity. “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
We all want to be loved. Always, daily, deeply. And God has the answer to our vulnerable, raw, needy questions. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
This is the Spirit at work in us. It was the Spirit at work in me. Even on the first day of school.
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35