(Originally posted on our former blog site on 4/9/2013)

Every mother has a catch phrase that she tells her kids from time to time. My mom’s was “You’re my favorite, but don’t tell the other kids”. Of course she did this to all of us- more times than not right in front of my other siblings- but it still made us feel special. I have found my own recently. From the time my boys were small I have told them that I loved them “with all of my heart”. I never thought anything of it, never thought that they would remember me by this, until my four year old recently developed this wonderful game out of it. 

The way it works is this, whenever I say “I love you with all of my heart” he replies with “I love you with all of my [insert funny body part or bodily function here]”. We go back and forth with this for as long as we have funny things to say and it always ends the same, with us laughing and Michael looking into my face and saying “Mom, I love YOU with all of my heart”. It’s my most favorite thing to do these days with this boy that no longer fits in my lap to cuddle.

In one of our last bouts of playing “I love you with all of my…” Michael came up with my favorite one yet. I had just said something silly like “I love you with all of my earwax ”when out of nowhere he comes back with “I love you with all of my BACK HAIR”.  

Really child, back hair?   

I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. You see, I am one quarter Lebanese and my child (who is only one eighth) has picked up many of the genes from my grandmother’s side.  He has olive skin tone, was born with thick black hair, and has more hair on his body than I believe most men my age have. Most four year olds would never have thought to insert this little gem into our game, because it is foreign to them- but not for my son! Let me tell you, this child has Back. Hair.

And I suppose he has me to thank for that.

When I was in seventh grade there was one particular day after gym class that I remember a couple of boys calling me monkey girl. (Of course they were referring to my dark, long hair arm and ears that stuck out like dumbo trying to fly in a circus.) I went straight to the bathroom and cried until my next class. I had never felt so embarrassed and ashamed until that moment.

I knew I had more hair than the other girls, and I knew that my ears stuck out well beyond average but I didn’t want anyone else to notice that, too. When I came home from school that day the first thing that I did was take out my razor and shave all of that arm hair off. My mom had always told me not to because it would grow back thicker and darker, but in that moment I didn’t care. I didn’t want to ever hear again that I looked like an animal. I didn’t want to be monkey girl anymore! I would wear my hair down and shave my arms and that would be the end of it. And that's what I did... for the next eight years of my life.

When Michael referred to his back hair, I laughed at first… and then... I stopped. I stopped because something inside of me was afraid that one day someone would look at him and call him names. Cause him to believe that there was something wrong with him. My heart was saddened because I love this boy WITH ALL OF MY HEART and I would never want him to be embarrassed by any part of him. And if that day comes when someone tries to hurt him because they themselves are hurting, I pray that he remembers our little game. 

That I not only love him with the best qualities, but with the most embarrassing ones as well.

I love him with my awkward ears because with them I can hear what he needs to say to me. I love him with my giant front teeth because they help me eat the sandwiches that he makes for me. I love him with my “toe thumbs” because with them I can rub his very hair back when he says he’s hurt it falling off of his bed.  I love him with not just part of me, I love him with ALL of me.

Sometimes I think we hinder ourselves from a close relationship with God because we are embarrassed that if He gets too close then He will discover something about us that isn’t so pleasant. 

When the bible says in Luke 10:27 to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind” it is saying to us that we should love God with everything that we have and everything that we are- even with the not so beautiful areas. Even when your mind is full of hateful thoughts, even when you’ve lost all strength to fight back, even when you’ve lost faith in yourself and in God, even in those times we were still created to love Him with ALL. It isn’t shocking to God. He knows. He knows and He still loves you. You are not hidden from Him no matter how hard you try. 

I love how a great mentor of mine put it; he said “you can’t cause God to stop loving you, because you didn’t do anything to cause Him to start loving you”. He just does. 

So my challenge for you is this- love God with all. Don’t hold back. Be honest about where you are failing and wavering, it doesn’t scare Him. No one has it all together. Life is hard and messy and ever-changing, but we serve a God who isn’t.  You can trust Him... with everything.

He loves YOU with all of His heart, have you allowed yourself to love Him with all of yours?

Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.