“Mommy, God just talked to me,” my daughter boldly claimed as she was midway down the stairs.
“Oh really,” I stopped and leaned in, excited to hear what God had to say to a four-year-old. “What did he tell you?”
“He said, ‘I love you,'” she started. “He said, ‘I love to play with you.'”
It was my daughter’s favorite good-night line. The one she insisted on telling us night after night, a bedtime ritual she needed to hear before going to bed.
“That’s beautiful, Valentina,” I said, wanting to hear more. “Anything else?”
“He said, ‘I have an eagle eye,'” she smiled, beaming.
My mouth dropped in wonderment. “You do! God knows you so well!”
This is the line I always tell my daughter when she finds something. She is my “Eagle Eye,” the one who can find a butterfly missing in the house (true story), the one who can locate the tiniest of Legos or find the hardest piece to a puzzle. What was striking was it seemed as though I had become her inner voice — the voice of God! What incredible power we have as parents, I thought.
Now I don’t think I can compete with God for one heartbeat. But I do believe we, as parents, have an incredible role, one that should not be taken lightly. In their critical early years, we do become our children’s inner voice, the voice that tells them, “I love you.” Or in other less pleasing circumstances, the critic that scolds them for making a mess and not picking it up — or simply not listening.
Too often I fear I’m the critical one, even though I long to be the positive one with an endless amount of “I love you’s” and a pep in my step. I’m a work in progress, I tell myself. And each day, it’s a new chance to turn it around.
My inner voice has been on my mind lately. When I spend days at home, I often feel as though I have more conversations with myself than other humans (above the age of seven). That internal monologue starts to get louder as the day wears on. And if I’m not careful, I tune into the wrong channel, the one that’s full of doubt and my darkest fears.
I just finished a friend’s recently launched book, “Letting Love In: How God Renews Relationships by Crushing Your Inner Critic”. It was a heart-healing read, a book that made me realize how often I self-sabotage my goals by listening to that inner critic.
So today I hush my inner critic and instead tune into my daughter’s voice, the one that’s calling out and saying, “I love you. I love to play with you.”
What I’ve come to realize is maybe what Valentina was saying — or dare I believe it, what God was saying through her — was that she wanted to feel loved, to feel as though I wanted nothing more than to play with her that day. Of course, Valentina! All I needed to do was tune in and listen.
“I love you, Valentina. I love to play with you!”