She always said, "I love you more than you love me." We laughed and argued back, "No, Mommy! I love you more than you love me!" The volley continued until she trumped us with the final, "I loved you . . . before you were born . . . ." And that settled it. She always won. But never was a victory so precious to the "defeated." We knew we were loved.
I've grown since then, and now the volley continues with my own children. They insist that they love me more. Aidan tries to prove his point with an impressive boast: "I love you an infinity and ninety-nine!" Drew helps him out by defining a googolplex. Bethie relents and says, "Oh, Mommy . . . ." And Avery insists that she loves me more because she cries for me. I answer back, grinning, with the challenge, "Well, I cry for you, too . . . ."
She thinks I'm being silly. But she doesn't understand.
She doesn't understand that I really do cry for her. I cry tears of joy for the beauty in her. I cry tears of agony for the trials she must face. I cry tears of anger over the conflicts we experience and then I cry tears of frustration over the war I must wage to defeat my own selfishness.
But I also cry tears of thanksgiving. Because I know that there is One who loves her even more. This same One who trumps all because He loved me . . . before I was born. He wins the game every time. He, the triumphant King, holds her tenderly in the palm of His hand and calls her by name. And He does the same for me.
She and I, we sit together in our Father's presence, both loved more than we could ever imagine. Beyond infinity and ninety-nine, beyond a googolplex, beyond a ba-zillion. We are always loved . . . more.