He was squirming in my arms. Typical for our time at Mass. Being three is tough and he just wanted church to be over.
I held him in my arms and pulled him close, chest to chest. “What is my heart saying to your heart?” I whispered in his ear.
He pulled back a bit so he could look me in the eye, very serious, very sincere. “‘I love you.’ And my heart says, ‘I love you too!'”
In the same week, I pulled my nine-year-old son onto my lap when he was feeling punky and sulky. Although he’s clearly much bigger than his three-year-old brother, I was able to hold him close, his head on my shoulder, chest to chest. I held him that way for a full minute and then felt prompted to simply whisper to him several affirmations as we continued to snuggle.
“Son, you are so precious to me. I am so grateful God chose me to be your mommy. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to watch you grow up. God has wonderful plans for your life!” Surprisingly, this large ball of energy just soaked it all in and stayed put for my affection and affirmations. Later in the evening, as I tucked him in, he initiated telling me he loves me, something he almost never does.
Why do I share these two precious moments? Because I believe I’ve stumbled upon a new way of having a heart to heart conversation with my children: a heart to heart where our hearts are as close in proximity as we can get them. To be that physically close requires vulnerability and trust, a strong foundation for a meaningful exchange.
I’ve been praying for several months that God would pour His love for my family through me, through my heart to their hearts. And I’ve felt drawn to do this not only in my words and works of service, but through a sincere physical embrace, where our beating hearts could “hear” each other, if they had that capability.
Most of my children have responded warmly to these longer, tighter hugs from Mom. I pray silently usually, asking God to meet this child’s needs, asking the Holy Spirit to help me be the mother I am called to be. It has transformed a simple daily hug into a powerful moment of connection and grace.
So the next time you have a squirmy toddler or a punky tween or even a moody teenager, you might want to try having a more literal heart to heart. I am so happy I have stumbled across this way of connecting and maybe you will find it helpful too.
“I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you.” (Ezekiel 36:26)