As I do, I see that little girl, longing for attention, empty. She sees the attention received by the baby and believes that the only way she will receive attention again is to attach herself to that baby, mothering it. Certain that no one will give her what she needs, she will glean what she can, but will never be filled.
The image brings to tears as I see the depths of my heart revealed before me. I have struggled with the issue of attention for a very long time. I always claimed that I did not desire it, that I wanted to avoid it, but it never felt entirely true.
Now the truth stands before me. I long for, even crave attention. Even now I feel empty for its lack. Yet I cannot seek it, cannot ask for it, I must hold back lest I be refused and disappointed again.
“Papa, forgive me!” I cry, despairing. I do not know how to submit this longing to Him. Part of me wants desperately to release this all to Him. But another part is so afraid that if I do I will be left empty and unnoticed, rejected all over again.
In this moment, He covers me again, clothing me in His righteousness. “Now that you see, you need not remain uncovered.” He explains, drawing me to Himself. As He embraces me, He continues, “There is no sin in wanting attention. It is part of the normal human needs. There is no sin there to forgive.”
The revelation brings me to tears. He leads me to the chairs, sits and draws me into His lap, holding me closely. “The sin is in your belief that it is wrong and must be denied and in the vows and judgments you have made that no one would give you attention and that you were not worth of it yourself.”
Brokenheartedly, I cry, “Forgive me, Papa! I have believed those things! I repent, change my heart! Show me how to receive. Please, touch and fill this emptiness!” I see how even when it is there, I run from the attention I crave, believing somehow that is it not right for me to have it. Yet others seek me out because I know how to pay attention to them, all the while I crave that very thing for myself. I see too how He has placed me in a family of men who do attend to me constantly and I have not truly received that because of these wounds. “Forgive me for rejecting the very thing I crave, that You have given to me!”
He places His hand gently on my heart and I feel something being cut, ties from disappointment to rejection. “As you begin to receive the attention you need, the habits connecting these will break down as well.” He explains.
“Thank you, Papa,” My heart aches right now, but in a new way. The pain is real, but it seems to be a growing, healing kind of pain, not the stabbing cutting ache that destroys from within.
“Get me the oil I gave you.” He directs, helping me to rise.
My footfalls make little sound as I go to the cabinet to fetch the flask. I pause for a moment, reminding myself of the new expectations that are represented there. Quickly, though, I return with the flask. It does not seem a large bottle, but He pours it liberally into His hands, rubbing it lightly between them.
He takes my face carefully in His hands, rubbing the fragrant oil into my face and hair. I breathe in the perfume deeply. The delicate scent is that of morning, sunrise with blooming flowers-orange blossoms I think- in the distance. This oil is light, not weighty like the other. Continuing His ministrations, He rubs in into my neck, shoulders, and finally into my heart. A lightness begins to seep in, penetrating the weight I have been carrying, easing the burden so it is not so hard to bear.
“My yoke is easy and my burden light, child. I know what you need and have never desired you to be without that. Your sin has caused you to believe a lie, that I would starve my children of what they truly needed as a requirement of righteousness.”
Again, I see how much I have misunderstood Him and repent. ”Forgive Me, Papa for not trusting your goodness, for believing the lies about You.”
Taking my face in His hands again, He kisses the top of my head. “You are forgiven, child.” He presses His cheek to my head now, holding me in tender embrace.
Inwardly, I struggle to stay here.
“Do not pull away from Me,” He whispers gently, His embrace still firm and secure. Your flesh is trying to go back into old habits and responses to pain. Fight it, fight to stay here with Me.”
As always, He knows my heart, He is right. It is my flesh struggling with the new revelations, trying to fight the changes happening around it. The call of these old ways is strong and my heart struggles not to go down those paths. Familiar thoughts threaten to creep in, feelings beckon to me.
“Focus on Me,” He instructs, “Put your mind, your eyes on Me.” He still holds my face firmly in His hands, His head resting on mine. Without thinking I reach up and take hold of His wrists—His hands are so large and strong and yet so gentle! I am holding on to Him, not to pull away, but for strength. We stand like this for a very long time, me struggling to focus on Him and not the old ways, Him giving me strength to fight to remain here with Him.
Finally, finally, I feel the pull of the old things weaken, temptations to run and hide from Him lose their appeal. “It is working, Papa.” I whisper, not willing yet to move my hands from His.
“Yes, it is. But do not yet lose your focus.” He replies softly. So we remain still longer.
Finally, He kisses the top of my head again. “Well done, child. Because you have stayed and obeyed, no wedge has come between us.
“The repentance moment is easy. The rebuilding, tearing down the old structures and creating new is the more difficult part.” His voice is tender as He holds me and we walk back to the chairs.