“I do it myself!”exclaims my 4-year-old daughter Amelia. Whether I’m trying to help her brush her teeth, buckle her shoes or get a piece of toilet paper she wants to do it herself. Even as an infant she didn’t like to be rocked to sleep. She wanted to fall asleep by herself. Recently she realized that she is tall enough to reach the water spout on the refrigerator by herself. She chugs her cup of water just so she can fill it up again. All. By. Herself. She is one well-hydrated, independent little girl.
My 3-year-old son, Benjamin, was not born with this drive. Matter of fact he is quite the opposite. He’ll desperately plea, “Mommy, help me put on my shoes,” even though just the other day I watched him put those exact pair of shoes on by himself. He’ll get all distraught as to why sometimes I won’t help him. I started worrying that he was straight up lazy. I had a vision of him at age 22 eating popcorn on my couch in his boxers. I was about to rebuke the spirit of laziness out of him when I had a revelation. His love language is acts of service. He feels loved when I help him do something even when he could do it himself. Obviously I don’t have time to help him with every petty little thing, but I do want him to feel loved (and also learn some independence). We are learning a healthy balance, but the acts of service love language would explain why he is such an unusually grateful child. We teach our children to say “Please” and “Thank you,” but he enthusiastically and sincerely thanks me from the bottom of his heart for helping him with simplest of tasks. “Thank you Mommy, for helping me put my shirt on!” What 3-year-old even says that? Especially without being prompted! It’s wonderful.
With a love language of acts of service and not being naturally independent, Benjamin requests my help often. From the other room I hear him yell, “Momma! Momma! Momma!” I hear the urgency in his voice and I come running looking for blood, “What’s wrong!? Are you broken?” I search his body for fractured bones. None. No blood either. He hands me a lid to a barrel of monkeys, “I can’t put this on.” He then half-heartedly attempts to put the lid on the barrel to prove his inability. With my adrenaline going I should be relieved that he is okay, right? No. I’ve seen him put the lid on the monkeys before and I fear that if he calls me again for something mundane my own barrel of monkeys is going to come out and I’ll go ape on him. Since then it has gotten worse. He yells, “Momma! Momma! MOMMAaaa!” I come running with my Super Mom cape on ready to aid him in his distress, “Yes, Benny?” He’ll look at me blankly, “Uh, Uh . . . Momma!” “Ben I’m right here what do you need?” Without saying anything more he’ll go back to playing. Nothing. He needed nothing. He yelled my name for no reason at all and ignored me when I got there.
When all three of our children were babies my husband and I would compete on who’s name they would say first. We’d coach them, “Say Mama”… “Say Dada.” The first time they’d utter our name are hearts would flutter. It was as if all the love you had been pouring into that child you were finally feeling some acknowledgement for. Not long ago, I heard a story of a dad talking about his son with a disability say “Dad” for the first time- when he was 10-years-old! He had waited a DECADE for his son to say his name. The dad reminded all parents to not take their child’s abilities for granted. Guilt trip taken, thanks. I should be grateful that my son can say my name, right? I should feel honored to hold the title “Mommy” to begin with. Hearing your child say your name is heart moving the first few 100 times, but around the millionth time you’re ready to release the ape. The lid came off, “WHAT DO YOU WANT? STOP SAYING MY NAME!” Don’t judge me. I felt bad enough when I saw the tears well up in my tenderhearted son’s eyes, “Mommy you yelled at me?” I acknowledged the fact, “Yes, yes I did. You keep yelling for me even though you don’t need me.” He breaks down crying. I apologize and we hug it out.
I wonder if our Heavenly Father gets a similar feeling when we say His name out of frustration. When we can’t get the lid off of the can, “Oh my God! Why won’t this come off!?!” Our Heavenly Father comes running to our rescue. He searches for injuries wanting to save you from your distress only to find that you weren’t actually calling for Him. You don’t even acknowledge His presence. Does He react like I did? “WHAT DO YOU WANT? STOP SAYING MY NAME!” No, I don’t think so, but I do think He feels sadness. As our Savior He wants us to call on His name when we have a need. Obviously, people who have not accepted Him as their Heavenly Father will not respect Him as the Almighty authority. But for a person who claims to be a child of God to say, “Jesus Christ” without expecting Him to show up is not a matter of holding the tongue, but evidence of a HUGE heart issue.
Excuse my dorkiness. I have this ridiculous R&B song going through my head. It won’t stop. The ape is canned but the inner dork is about to come out… “Say my name, say my name. When no one is around you say baby I love you.” Destiny Child’s fans, anyone? I had their CD back in high school. I thought they were hot! Thank the Lord He has sanctified my taste in music. I changed the lyrics to the song. Brace yourself…
Say His name.
Say His name.
When everyones around you
say Jesus I love you.
If you ain’t runn’n games
Say His name. Say His name.
You act’n kinda shady
Ain’t call’n Him Savior
Why the sudden change?
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:10