What does nurture mean to you?
For me, the word conjures up images of motherly love – care that goes beyond the obligatory or dutiful. That reaches into the soul of a person. Care that earnestly looks someone in the face and says: ‘I love you, and you are worth my best efforts’. To me, nurture is a kind of presiding over… taking someone under your mother-hen wing in an almost spiritual sense. Taking ownership of a person’s needs. Giving out of what you’ve been given, loving out of the love you’ve received. Or in spite of the love you haven’t.
Nurture is complex, and whether we are parents, or close friends who care – it can come out of us in spurts, depending on a range of factors. We are patchy nurturers at best. Flawed, human – with the best intentions, yet producing inconsistent results. Sometimes our attempts to nurture do the opposite. Sometimes our attempts to find nurture produce a life-sapping kind of co-dependency.
My need for nurture seems to have followed me all the way home to, well, myself.
Exhausted by the search for it, trying to find it in people, as we all do, I stopped dead in my tracks when I realised how much I could do for me.
I realised I had it in my hands to bandage my daily wounds. To talk myself through a problem. To affirm who I was becoming. To be proud of me, for me. To spoil myself sometimes for the sake of a happier, better self.
Self-dependency certainly feels healthier than the other kind.
But as liberating as I found that realisation, and as wonderful as it feels to treat yourself with respect, kindness and care, it registered with me on a spiritual level that there was much more nurture to be had. Not from humans, though I am much better at asking for, and receiving, healthy gifts of love from the people in my life…
But in the Bible, and His daily whispers to me. I’ve been searching for glimpses into God’s heart, and have found some in the following verses…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
“I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings…” (Psalm 57:1 NKJV)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I [God] have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me…” (Matthew 23:37 NLT)
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:4)
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.” (Psalm 36:7-8)
God, my Father Hen. He longs to care for me, protect me – nurture me. Not so I am coddled, but rather strengthened for the journey ahead. The road He is leading. The one I will follow at all cost. Simply because I love Him, and He loves me. I can trust Him with all my needs – every one of them. He knows the ending to my story after all. The wheres and the whys and the hows of this world I inhabit. The world He created. The plan he ordained. The path He’s laid out for me.