Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Did I Do, Daddy?

Tonight, during goodnight kisses and hugs, I said to Tyler, "I'm so proud of you son, and I love you so much." Jennifer and I both tell him this every night--we believe that his knowing these two things is essential. That no matter what has happened during the day, we still love him; we're still proud of who he is.

But tonight, the look in Tyler's eyes told me, essentially, this: frontal lobes, dude. Frontal lobes are kicking in. It's true. All the toddler books say that around the third birthday, the frontal lobes of a child's brain really start coming in strong. (The frontal lobes, by the way, are the area of the brain that involve reasoning and step-thinking and action-result analysis, in other words, the parent's Hallelujah! lobes of a child's brain.)

So tonight, on Christmas Eve, as I said the words to Tyler, he looked back at me and I could see his frontal lobes doing somersaults. Olympic rings. Synchronized swimming. And Tyler said to me, "What did I do, Daddy?"

"You mean, what am I so proud of you for?"

"Mm-hmm."  Tyler's wide eyes really wanted to know. The lobes had spoken.

I returned Tyler's gaze and said, "Because you are you. I am proud of you and I love you no matter what, because you are Tyler and you are my son."

He smiled, asked for another kiss, and that was that.

Walking out of his bedroom, it struck me as highly appropriate on the night before we celebrate Christ's birth--the fact that Tyler's frontal lobes decided to really kick up just now. Because the Creator of the universe loves me and you and all of us in exactly this way--unconditionally and because we're His kids.

Not because of how much money we have or don't have; not because of the fact that we haven't cursed at all in the last seven years and three months (or because we have cursed every day of the last seven years and three months); not because of our successes or our failures.

There is no other love like this--so unconditional that it encompasses all we have ever done or thought and all we ever will do or think and it fully holds us just the same. Few modern books have been able to really touch the heart of the gospel message in this regard as poignantly and boldly as Francis Chan's Crazy Love or Shane Caliborne's The Irresistable Revolution. They reveal the wonderful absurdity of this kind of love and return a question to us: what will we do with it? How will we receive and use this love to help heal, grow, and restore the earth? How will we use this unconditional love of God to care for the broken, the poor, the hungry?

God's love is crazy because it is freely given with no measures and no standards. A love like that can't be contained--it can't be measured by hours on a Sunday, or group meetings on a Wednesday. Instead, a love like that throws logic to the wind, bids propriety adieu, and says to the status quo, No. Instead, a love that responds to this kind of crazy love does one thing: it keeps going.

This Christmas, I want to look at my Creator and ask the same question Tyler asked me--my frontal lobes kicking in, all my reason, all my logic, all my measure-for-measure standards--What did I do, Daddy? Why are you so proud of me? Why do you love me?

I want to ask so I can hear the words in reply--those glorious, unearned words: I love. I love. I love. You.