Some years ago, our daughter Allie simply stated, “Momma, I want to paint your fingernails.”
Really? I thought. After all, I rarely do much nail maintenance myself. Reluctantly, I nodded, then followed her to the bathroom.
She’d already laid out the supplies–a washcloth (“For your hands to rest upon,” she’d said) and Kleenex, as well as three nail colors in pink, red, and blue. A growing urge to flee the bathroom rose in me, yet something held me in my seat.
Carefully, Allie started with the pinkie on my left hand, coating nearly the entire finger blue, followed by pink on my ring finger, then pink once more. Perhaps an organized pattern will emerge. But then red and red again as she finished the remaining two fingernails.
Moving to the right hand, she began this time with my thumb. Pink. Pointer finger—yes, painting most of it—pink. Next was blue. Then red and red again.
All the while, Allie talked. “Be still . . . Isn’t that lovely . . . oops, a little messy . . . Let me fix that.”
After the nails were painted, I sat obediently as they dried, and we chatted. I thought the manicure was it–a gift of mother-daughter bonding–but Allie had something else in mind.
“Now, Momma, let’s go pick a dress.” She was determined.
“A dress?” I felt quite cozy in my comfy Saturday attire.
“Yes, a red dress. Do you have a red dress, Momma?”
I knew I did. One, only worn once, for my niece’s wedding. A beautiful dress—too beautiful for that particular Saturday afternoon. But not for Allie. Not for this special occasion.
“Wear that one, Momma! And the pretty red shoes too,” Allie cried, removing the pair from their place in my shoe rack. “I’ll help you get dressed.”
Something within, despite my desire to stay in the ordinary, beckoned me to give her this gift of my time. My willingness. My full submission. An invitation to experience the extraordinary offered by my four-year-old.
Soon I was dressed in red, sequenced frill—Saturday clothes tossed in a heap, dancing shoes on my feet. Little did I know.
Guiding me down the stairs with “Don’t fall! Be careful now,” Allie led me to the living room. My husband Bill looked up. I blushed. “Now, Daddy—dance with Momma.”
The plan all along. Painted fingers. Fancy party dress. Dancing shoes. And a little girl offering gentle, yet firm, commands. Taking my hand, she led me to her daddy. He stood and took the hand held out.
Slightly embarrassed—yes, victims of a hurried life where days spastically pass with too little intimacy, too little rhythm–we spun to music we hummed, Allie singing along. We laughed. We fumbled at first but soon moved with more ease, even breaking from our waltz-like 1-2-3 to do the Twist until finally . . .
“Daddy, pick Momma up—like this,” and she demonstrated with her hands held out. “Like a baby.”
Her daddy picked her mommy up and held her, his baby. Allie smiled. Success. She clasped her hands in satisfaction. “Yes, like that.”
Yes, like that.
Like all of it. The beauty of love spilled out. Spilled over. A lavish love that sometimes fumbles but, determined, stays the course. Love that fights and conquers. Love that wins. Always wins.
Like my painted fingernails—colorful love that doesn’t stay in the lines or necessarily follow a pattern. Love that flows and even gets smudged. Yes, messy love. Love that beckons and calls and prods and plans, with purpose.
Love that holds. Love that is held. Love that smiles with sweet satisfaction. Love that sorrowfully weeps for burdens carried. Clasped hand-held prayerful love, whispering, “Yes, like that.”
And even when the cup is bitter, the battle harsh, with temptations to scream No, we give Yes instead. “Yes . . . Yes, like that.”
Our imperfect love perfected by the One who first loved us.
Yes, love like this—
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39 NIV).