“I’m sorry, Mommy!” My toddler said these words over and over again after having shattered a teacup she’d been playing with. She was so distraught. I wanted to comfort her and tell her it was alright, that we could fix it, and more importantly, that I wasn’t upset with her. I knew the teacup might break if she played with it, and I gave it to her anyway. To me, it was worth the risk so that she could have the joy of playing with it. I had expected the teacup to eventually end up in pieces; I hadn’t anticipated how ashamed she would be of breaking it. Her expectations of herself were higher than mine of her. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she kept repeating. All I wanted was to take her little face in my hands, look her in the eyes, and tell her I loved her. But she wouldn’t look up.
“Look at me, little one.” She was so afraid that she kept her face hidden. “I’m sorry, Mommy.” My heart ached for her to look up at my face, to look into my eyes so that she would see what I felt for her in that moment. Not anger, not even impatience. Only a desire to love her, to put my arms around her and to comfort her.
God was offering me a glimpse of what he feels for us when we turn away from him in moments of fear, of shame, of self-loathing. The isolation of sin is self imposed. If only we would turn to God, we would see the face of love. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for us to come to home. Our capacity to receive his mercy is contingent only on our own willingness to turn and embrace it.
The Psalmist says, “Let us see your face and we will be saved.” To look into the face of God is to look into the face of love, and to know that ultimately nothing we could ever do can separate us from the love of God.
“Lord, make us turn to you. Let us see your face and we shall be saved.” – Psalm 80
What parts of myself do I try to shield from God’s view?
How can I actively seek to hold his gaze?
This post was originally written for the Christus Ministries Advent Blog and published Dec. 15, 2018.