Toddler Love

When an old dog needs to learn new tricks, sometimes it’s the puppies who lead the way. 

My Thursdays belong to my 18-month-old granddaughter Callie. She’s at that curious stage when even the smallest crumb left on the kitchen floor either becomes a tasty treat or a play toy. She often imitates barks from her dogs, tweets from visiting birds, and meows from Sophie the cat. She unconsciously sways to the beat of any music. She came equipped with an innate love for “reading” books aloud, which she shares with her floppy-eared stuffed bunny. 

Last Thursday, I had two questions rubbing against one another in my heart, so I felt a nudge to pay attention to the sweet little teacher God had given me for the day. On one hand, I wondered how willingly I adapt my usual expressions of love to meet the needs of others. On the other hand, I wondered if I ever dropped my walls enough to let others know how I receive love best. Whether we admit it or not, (whether we like it or not) we were all made to connect with each other.

Yes, Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to save us, God’s love continually sustains us, and the power of the Holy Spirit indwells us. Yet in the beginning, God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”, so He gave Adam someone to serve, hold, affirm, spend time with, and share all the wonders of creation. It wasn’t that God couldn’t provide those things Himself. It wasn’t that He lacked anything. God simply wanted Adam and Eve to enjoy the same kind of fellowship He enjoyed with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

We were not made to live independent of one other. We were made for relationship and community. We were made to be a group of interdependent people who ultimately rely on God for everything. In learning how to humbly love one another, we submit to Him in the process of pruning us to become more like Jesus.  

Thursday, I learned many love lessons by watching my little Callie girl – one who still interacts honestly and innocently. Fortunately, she’s had no reason to build any walls yet, so these are the unguarded moments I noticed: 

  • When Callie’s hungry, she goes to the pantry and points to what she wants.
  • When she’s hurt, she crawls into my lap for some sympathy.
  • Even though she’s often content to play alone, she still wants someone nearby.
  • When she gets tired and cranky, she wants to be held.
  • She laughs when you chase her and giggles when she’s tickled.
  • She gets a thrill out of feeding me more Cheerios than I want.
  • Spontaneous hugs and kisses flow freely and randomly.
  • If you leave the room, she will come find you.

We were made for love. So, when did we get too old to enjoy the world around us? When did we stop letting people know what we want and need? When did our time become so short, our innocent hugs and kisses become so awkward, and our acts, words, and gifts of kindness cause us to feel indebted rather than loved? 

I want to accept love with a childlike heart. I know you do too. Yet, I need to throw out my pride causing me to act childishly by insisting on my own way. Maybe we could all benefit from having some honest communication with those closest to us. When we don’t know how someone receives love best, we can always ask. If they resist answering, we might pay closer attention to the form they seem to revel in. However, when we’re the ones not feeling the love, perhaps it’s because we cause others to struggle with knowing what makes our love tick.

Here lately, the Spirit won’t let me turn loose of these words from the apostle Paul until I learn them. So, allow me to share them with you, and see if they stick like a handprint on your heart.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:3-5, NLT)

I set out on a mission a couple of years ago to learn how to love others better. I discovered it’s not as hard to learn how to love as it is to find the vast amounts of time, humility, and intentionality it takes to put what I learned into practice. One thing I know for sure, those who love me well have helped God change me for the better for good. I’d like to return that favor.

In the meantime, I’m confident God will use my Thursdays to humble me and change my way of thinking so that this old dog can learn a few new tricks in love and humility. 

Jesus called a little one to his side and said to them, “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm.”
(Matthew 18:2-4, The Passion Translation) 

Posted in
a poster saying “toddler LOVE”

The Good Life

By Donna Jackson | September 20, 2022 |

My grandparents lived in my college town long before I became a student. They made sure that I knew their house was my home. Even though they’ve gone on to their new eternal home, being back in that town still feels like home.   Wandering from street to street wakes up sweet memories. Traveling just a…

When An Alligator Is Under Your Armpit

By Donna Jackson | September 13, 2022 |

Nine months ago, our daughter and son-in-law welcomed a five-year-old little boy from Taiwan into our tribe. He wears a perfect smile most of the time, and his eyes light up when he sees a new face. He welcomes everyone into his heart immediately. No one is allowed to be a stranger in his world…

Going Back to Kindergarten

By Donna Jackson | September 6, 2022

Year after year, a reserved spot on my fifth-grade classroom wall displayed the same laminated poster. On it were the simple, yet profound words of Robert Fulghum titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Maybe you also remember seeing the same popular poster somewhere in your life.  After fulfilling my duty to laboriously…

We Interrupt This Program for a Special Announcement

By Donna Jackson | August 30, 2022

At 1:11 pm yesterday, our seventh grandchild arrived kicking and screaming. While I might have had time to string together a few paragraphs to craft a blog, I was much too excited to focus. I did, however, use my time to notice the goings and comings of those around me. Many young mothers wheeled by…

BREAD!

By Donna Jackson | August 23, 2022

Between church services Sunday morning I took a few minutes to do one of my favorite things – people watching. I observed men, women, and children of all ages, colors, sizes, and classes. Some men wore wrinkled sport shirts, others spiffy sport coats; some had donned long pants, others wore shorts; a few shiny wing…

Subtle Obedience

By Donna Jackson | August 16, 2022

What hints help you identify someone as a fellow believer? What causes you to inquire about someone’s faith? Are you drawn more toward people who do great public things for God or to those who work quietly behind the scenes? How might others recognize YOU as a believer? These are the questions I wrestle with;…

What Teachers Need From You

By Donna Jackson | August 9, 2022

As a first-year teacher, I soaked up every tidbit of advice my veteran cohorts floated my way. Some of it worked well for me, some of it didn’t fit my teaching style. I especially needed to hear how those master teachers conducted their parent conferences. Thankfully, I sat in on many meetings with a teacher…

Slip Sliding Away

By Donna Jackson | August 2, 2022

Maybe they just don’t see where you’re coming from. Or, maybe you’re looking at it all wrong. Maybe you’re both looking at things from totally different perspectives – from opposite ends of the spectrum. You intended to bless. They felt cursed. You see one side and they see the other. Whatever caused the rift, you’re…

One Team

By Donna Jackson | July 26, 2022

What seems like decades ago, (Oh, wait, it was decades ago.) I coached my daughter’s softball team for several seasons. I learned early on that it helped to keep a hit sheet, among other things, for each opponent. Knowing where each of their girls usually hit the ball allowed me to move my girls into…

God Was Not Surprised

By Donna Jackson | July 19, 2022

I learned the hard way that being negative can have adverse effects.  Maybe I should clarify that a smidge. My BLOOD TYPE is A negative, and apparently in 1959 hospitals could not type blood as well as they do now. After becoming anemic at age 2, I received a blood transfusion that introduced positive Rh factors…