I was praying recently for a friend who was feeling heart-heavy in the midst of lockdown shielding. I found myself asking the Father that she would know the weightlessness of being held. I loved that phrase as soon as I heard it – it felt like a glint of gold in the sand, and I wanted to get up close and dig it out so I could have a good look at it. The weightlessness of being held – what does that mean? What does that look like for my friend? Is it something I can enjoy too?
So I’ve been pondering…. It conjures up images of a young child tucked up safe in its parent’s arms, weightless and at ease. But here I am, a grown woman. It’s not often we have our weight born by another as an adult. I’m picturing random piggyback races in the park or a bad fall where we need to lean on a friend as we hobble to a chair. Or that time a couple of years ago when kid one was testing out his new teenager strength by seeing if he could pick me up. He could, by the way, which was both disconcerting (how did he get so strong?) and comforting (phew, he can pick me up) in equal measure as well as being slightly painful as he had a tight grip. In these situations, we feel keenly aware of our size and weight, apologetic almost. We know that another person wouldn’t easily take our weight, so we try to help them out a bit, by holding our breath or tensing up in a vain attempt to become lighter – anything to take some of the strain off the weight-bearer.
But this is not the case for a small child, they just flop into a parent’s arms, totally unaware of their weight or wondering how they might help share the load. They have just come to be held.
Most mornings, after checking my side of the bed is empty, kid 3 heads downstairs to find me spending time with God. In the winter, he usually finds me curled up in an armchair in the lounge. Now it’s summer, I’ve taken to sitting at the doorway of a treehouse in the garden where I can see the sun coming up and enjoy the early morning air. He was a bit thrown the first couple of days I’d taken up residence at the treehouse as he couldn’t find me anywhere inside, but now he knows where to find me, he just opens the back door and calls “Mum, come”. So I clamber down the wooden ladder and head inside to the sofa where he climbs onto my lap for our morning cuddle. He’s just turned nine, and I’ve no idea how much longer I’ll be able to enjoy this morning routine. We joke about how these days, he has the ‘Mumma love’ in the mornings and evenings but isn’t so cuddly during the day. In the morning, he “loves me more than the stars in the sky”. In the evening, I’m “an angel who came down from heaven with more glory than Dad”, but during the day, I’m mostly just Mum. His brother and sister were winding him up the week before his birthday, saying he wouldn’t need to cuddle me so much once he was nine. “Don’t say that!” I wanted to shout, as kid 3 agreed and decided he wouldn’t give me morning cuddles after his birthday. (Cue internal knife-in-the-heart moment). I love his cuddliness, but I know that he’s getting older and won’t want to curl up on my lap each morning and bask in our reciprocal love forever. I’ve told him there’ll come a day when he won’t want to anymore, and that’ll be fine, that’s how it should be. Though for now, I’m glad he’s forgotten about his decision to stop the morning cuddles.
I guess from the moment we are born, that’s when we are held the most, and it gradually lessens as the years roll on (that is, until they roll on so far that we do need more physical help). Children are used to being held, it’s their place of safety, comfort and rest. But we grown-ups aren’t so used to it. I can’t remember the last time I actually fell over or hurt myself in a way that would need the physical support of another. It’s not often we climb on to someone’s lap to be held, so we’re just not very used to it. We’d feel awkward, heavy, a drain.
And so to bring my mullings to God, I wonder, is that how we feel when we come to our Father needing to be held? Embarrassed, ashamed at needing help, trying to make ourselves lighter or take some of the strain?
Isn’t that crazy? We come to the king of the universe, who relates to us as a compassionate and loving Father. His arms are wide open to us, and we approach, apologetic that we’re needing his help and embarrassed at how heavy we are, as if we’re asking too much. He’s not going mock us for needing help, or groan under our weight as we climb onto his lap. His word tells us,
The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.Proverbs 33:27
I have upheld you since your birth, and have carried you since you were born. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.Isaiah 46:3-4
Doesn’t that sound good? I’d love to get better at letting myself be held by my Father in heaven. Held is his steadfast love, held in his care and attention, held in his grace, held in his promises and faithfulness. I think sitting there in his arms and enjoying all of that would be the most successful weight-loss plan I’ve ever followed. How about you?