The Lasting Impact of Attentive Love


As I sat in our cozy cabin by the fireplace, my dad could tell I was troubled. Not one to hide my true feelings well, he could see it in my furrowed brow.  When I lost my usually sunny disposition and got this pensive look on my face, my parents would affectionately call me “Thunder Cloud.”   Well “Thunder Cloud” was here and she busy contemplating her options, alternating between thinking up excuses and working up courage for the day ahead.

It was my first time skiing, and at the young age of eight, I wasn’t too sure about the whole thing.  COLD, chapped lips and nose, frost-bitten fingers…what’s a girl to do?   It was pretty rough.  The day of ski lessons ahead looked daunting from my little girl perspective.

“Well, Jules,” my dad said, trying to encourage me, “Today is another learning day.  You have to give skiing about three days before it really becomes fun.  You’ve been at it two days.   So today is the day!  If you work hard, by the end of the day, you will be in really good shape!”

I sighed, gave him a half smile, and left to put on what felt like 17 layers of clothes.  At last, I pulled on my boots and gathered up my rather puffy ski jacket.  I looked very akin to The Michelin Man.  As I did my Frankenstein walk toward the door, my dad stopped me and tenderly turned me to face him.

He inspected my readiness. “Let’s see here…”  He helped me with my gloves, working out those tricky inside-out fingers.  He made sure I had a chap stick in my pocket and that it was zipped.  Lastly, he helped me put on that puffy ski jacket.   As he did, he said, “Julie, you were getting pretty good by the end of the day yesterday.  I know that if you work at it, you will be a great skier one day.” I couldn’t fight the grin. The thunder cloud was lifting.

Then came the moment that has somehow stayed with me all my life: my dad snapped up all of the snaps on my coat – and I mean, ALL the way up.  He snapped them clear up to my chin!  “All set?” he asked.  I nodded.

How very loved I felt!  How protected!  I waddled out the door, ready to conquer those ski slopes!

What a simple moment. And yet for me, it is embedded in my heart and mind as an important and life-giving interaction of love that I will always remember.  Here is what I learned:

  • I was needy and in a discouraged place.  With a little unselfishness, my Dad noticed.
  • My spirit needed a few words of encouragement.  With a little discernment, my Dad offered hope and perspective, “I know you can do it!”  “Give it one more day!”
  • I needed a little physical help and felt overwhelmed.  With a little time, my Dad helped me out.
  • I didn’t know it, but I simply needed a big dose of comfort and love.  With just that slight, extra measure of grace, my Dad snapped me up the whole way.

What a great lesson of love, simply meeting the needs of a child.

Do you ever wonder sometimes why God made us so needy?  He made us to need food and water and clothes.  He made us to need comfort and warmth and a little help (sometimes a lot of help!).  So many needs!  I could go on and on.  On the deepest level, He made us to need to be known and loved – first and foremost by Him, then by others.

God made us this way so that we would see how very dependent we need to be – on Him!  But secondly, I think it is so that we would learn how to tenderly love and care for each other. He knew that life is so much more rich and full as we carry the burdens of life together! (Gal 6:2) He knew that as we learn how to love Him and others well, we are fulfilling our highest purpose in life! 

I think that somehow we view being loving and kind as some kind of intangible aura that we just exude, when, really, it is much more practical than that.  The Lord Jesus was a wonderful example to us in this way.  Over and over again, he extended himself with love and time and physical help (Matt. 13:34).  He saw the needs around him and he responded (Mark 3:1-6).  He showed profound love and generosity throughout his life on earth (John 13:1-20).

Valentine’s Day is in just a couple of weeks…

As this celebration of love approaches and we think about our marriages, let us consider how well we are doing at this crucial task of loving.  A few questions to ask yourself as you consider your husband’s needs…

Are they physical? Work related?  Is he facing discouragement? Spiritual dryness?  Exploring these questions may take some effort, but finding the answers and acting on them, will be worth it!!

Choose to pour on the love this Valentine’s Day.  After your relationship with God, your relationship with your husband is your highest priority.  As you selflessly investing in your man I think you will find that, you too, will be blessed by the sweet echoes of love that follow!

  • Julie McGrath

Going Deeper – YOUR HOMEWORK!!

  • What does your husband need in order to feel loved?  If you stop and consider him, I’m sure you know what he likes. Is it time?  An evening set apart in the haven of your bedroom?  Would he be blessed if you clean out his car?
  • What words of love would offer life and hope to your man?  What does he need to hear from you today?  Where he is struggling? Have you told him lately how much you respect and admire him?
  • How can you help him?  What can you do to lighten his load?  What can you do to serve him in a way that says, “I love you and am deeply committed to your well-being.
  • How can you “go the extra mile” to demonstrate love and grace to your husband?  What would speak volumes of love to him?

2 thoughts on “The Lasting Impact of Attentive Love

  1. I remember those days very well. You kept going and had a busy third day of skiing. Great memories of doing things together while you were growing up. And making more memories of doing things together now that you are grown and have your own wonderful family. All our best. Love ya…… Dad

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