I was a different child. As a toddler, instead of a stuffed animal or a doll, I carried around a stuffed clown. My favorite toy as a youngster was a dump truck. I still remember its red cabin and green bed and how I loved to push it around our family room.
The old adage says confession is good for your soul, so I must admit, as an adult, I love stuffed animals. Even though I don’t own many, each one is a treasure. I purchase them to remind me of the pleasant days of childhood. Those times I felt loved, nourished, cherished. Those extraordinary days when I was poured into by my parents; when my biggest concern was what I would wear. They point the way to carefree memories of playing in the sprinkler, tobogganing down a snowy hill or enjoying a popsicle on a hot summer’s day.
But there is another, more perfect reason, I own several of them – they remind me I am a child. Oh, not in the sense of reassuring my inner child. No, they help me remember that in the midst of some truly adult worries, I am God’s child. In both the heartbreaks and the glorious triumphs of life, I need that message spoken to me often.
God replaces my concerns with His love. He brings grace to those parts of me where I feel shame. God gives me hope when the world offers harshness. He invites me into a relationship – a miraculous, grace-filled friendship – where I am completely accepted. Not for anything I’ve ever done or will ever do, but simply because I’m His child. His love is a gift offered by hands cut open by nails and a body stilled by death on the cross.
I need to hear that message more often than I care to admit because the day-to-day battles of life drain me. And then I center my gaze on one of my little animals and it reminds me, I’m not going into battle alone. The God who spoke the universe into being is going with me. The God who never loses, who has never been defeated, is beside me. That changes everything.
So while my stuffed animals may seem a bit childish, they remind me I am the child of a Father who says, “I love you.”
And with those precious words, I rejoice knowing my heart is safe with Him.