There is a small, approximate 3-inch white stuffed bear in my home that I have held on to for almost 35 years.
It is a bit faded, and unstitched on the hands – right where the paws would end. The wings once sewn onto the back came off years ago – but they didn’t become lost. The bear holds a small red heart that says, “I love you.”
I received this bear from my father in the middle of a two-week restriction period when I was a senior in high school. He gave it to me on the same evening I brought home an apology card for him. He said, “I guess we’re both feeling bad.”
I don’t remember if he enforced the remainder of my grounding, but this bear has traveled with me through all of it. Through losses, victories, college, 17 moves and homes, tragedies, love. It has been moved from box to box, drawer to drawer. From bedrooms, to closets, to even bathrooms.
I was never willing to let it go.
What I did wrong decades ago isn’t important in this story. It’s what I feel and remember when I look at this bear that brings a level of comfort. It brings love, forgiveness, understanding.
And this is from my earthly father. If we are willing to tote around a 3-inch stuffed animal from our young adult years into our older adult years, are we just as able and willing to allow the same from our Father?
Are we just as willing to allow our Father to represent forgiveness, love, understanding? Are we willing to tote that around – to feel that in our heart when we wrong another? To believe that our Father continues to love us, forgive us, and understand before us?
Or are we sometimes too filled with shame, distrust, and even disbelief that we have a Father who cares that much. I heard within a message recently that He knows everything – even our heart rate at any given time.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
When my father gave me the bear, it served as a bridge between what I had done wrong, and his reminder that he still loved me. It was an acknowledgement of his unconditional love – and it was a tearful lesson for my teenage self that I was still valued.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Can we simply feel how amazing this is? Can we think of every part of our life and fill it into this scripture? Love is patient, it is kind… do we even deserve that every day?
Love believes all things, hopes all things. Only God can do this. Why is that so hard to let in? Why do we sometimes not feel worthy of this love? Of His love?
“No one is perfect – apart from Jesus. But God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son to die for us (John 3:16). Therefore, God must love imperfect people. In fact, ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). God knows that perfect people do not exist. We all fail. God’s love for you is bigger than your mistakes. God loves imperfect people.” (Day 259: Bible in One Year)
Thank goodness my earthly father does. And my life has been saved over and over again by my heavenly Father who does – who does every single day. I don’t need a small white bear as a reminder. I simply need to hold on to His love, forgiveness, and understanding.
And believe my unstitched self is worthy.