"I love you."
My daughters are drenched in this truth. Every morning in their waking, I hug and kiss them and wonder how they slept and what they dreamed about. The beauty of their innocence leaves me shivering with awe, each blink a reminder that they have their mommy's almond eyes, and I, I am wrapped around each finger.
This morning Mariah expressed a hint of sarcasm in her response, "Why do you always say that?" Rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders, she seemed bored with my language of love: words of affirmation. In one ear, and out the other. She has grown somewhat numb to the diverse examples that I have used to remind her. "I love you."
Why do I always say that?
Because I want my daughters to grow up knowing who they are, and whose they are. I want them to never have to wonder if their father was paying attention. I want my children to hear those words audibly, and see them lived out - physically. I flood their ears with those three words, because it just might be the one true thing they hear all day.
I love you. Before you ever realized it, I loved you. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Before you could do anything to earn it. I love you with a selfless-take a bullet for you- change your diapers for you- bind your wounds and kiss your scrapes - kind of love. The kind of love that hurts to fathom, and invokes migraines in the comprehension of...infinity.
Nothing. There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any more, or any less. I love you before you choose to break my heart. I love you during the premeditated act. I love you in the excess of your selfishness. I love you through the season of your rebellion. I will be the guy waiting at the edge of the driveway for my prodigal to return. With binoculars. and a box of tissues, clutching a picture of the day you were born.
I love you. Not because your pre-school teachers rave about your advancements, or because you can recite most of the OT books of the bible. My love for you is scandalous, risky, and limitless. Where can you possibly go to outrun my love?
I know about your little habits, mannerisms, and secrets. I know you pretend to have an overactive bladder, when in actuality you are blazing a trail of rebellion from your bedtime. I know you have learned to fake a cough in high hopes of avoiding school. I know you think I can't see you through the window, when you're playing alone in the back yard. I know you like to eat snow, and then say you're not hungry for dinner. I know you used to squat in the corner for additional privacy, avoiding the toilet training regimen...
I will be here. When your first boyfriend breaks up with you, and your second boyfriend turns out to be gay, and your prom date forgets to pick you up, and your friends go away to college - I''ll be here to laugh with you, cry with you, live with you, and die with you. I will be here when the whole world is throwing rocks at you, and your sin is on the evening news and everyone else writes you off with tragic finality. I'll be here when you realize that you want nothing to do with professional religious people, and I'll be here when you expect me to lock you out of the house. I'll be here when you break the rules, and I'll be here when you find your voice.
Why do I always say that?
Because every day I am making a deposit into your memory bank.