With Valentine’s Day approaching, I have been trying to choose books about love for my daughter, Juliet, and I to read together each night. I want her to know how deeply and unconditionally I love her and also how God’s love for her far surpasses my own great love.
As I looked at our shelves the other night, The Runaway Bunnyby Margaret Wise Brown jumped out at me. “That’s perfect!” I thought to myself. We’ve read this book a million times before, but we’ve never had a conversation about how God loves us as unwaveringly and as fiercely as the mother bunny loves her little bunny.
If you’ve never read the book, it begins like this:
“Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, “I am running away.” “If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.” If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother, “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
The story continues in this way with the little bunny coming up with another and yet another thing to turn into and his mother responding with how she will chase after him and find him NO MATTER WHAT. It’s a beautiful story of unconditional love.
As I thought about the picture of love presented in this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the love stories of the Bible such as the book of Hosea, the story of the prodigal son, and the greatest love story of all: Jesus coming to earth and becoming human just because He loved us so much. No matter how far we ran from him, and no matter what we became, He was willing to leave heaven behind and give up His life because we are His children and He loves us.
I thought to myself, “This is going to be great! We’re going to read a great book together AND have a meaningful spiritual conversation!”
It didn’t exactly turn out that way. Here’s what happened:
As we began reading the story together, Juliet asked me, “Mommy, why is that bunny running away? and I said, “Why do you think he is running away?” and she said, “To join the circus!” (Towards the end of the book, the bunny tells his mother he will join the circus.)
I took this moment to tell her that I was like the mother bunny and that if she ever ran away, I would always go after her because she was my little bunny. She just sort of nodded and then we continued reading.
A few pages later, Juliet suddenly jumped up, and exclaimed, “I’m the little bunny!” and ran away. I put the book down and proceeded to chase her down the hall and tackle her in my room.
I again reminded her that I would always catch her because she was my little bunny. She smiled, giggled, and then announced, “I’m a butterfly, I’m going to fly away from you!” and ran down the hall. I responded with, “I’m a net and I will catch you!”
We played this spontaneous little game over and over again—she was a little bird; I was a nest. She was a lady bug; I was a little girl with a bug-catcher. She was a roley poley, and I was a pile of dirt. Again and again, she ran away from me, and again and again I caught her.
Then we sat down, finished reading the book, and got ready for bed. As I tucked her in, I said, “God is like the mother bunny, too. No matter what you do, no matter how far you run away from Him, He will always come after you because you are His little bunny and He loves you.”
And she said, “Hey. You have hair in your nose.”
So maybe we didn’t get the meaningful spiritual conversation in, (we did have a discussion about the benefits and purposes of nose hair) but we did make some memories and invented a fun, new game! Even though she wasn’t really ready to talk about God’s love for her, I think the seed was planted.
And like that mother bunny, I’ll keep chasing her down and telling her tirelessly about God’s love, over and over again. And the best part is, I don’t have to do it on my own. He won’t stop His pursuit of her either.
Vanessa is a regular contributor to Impress Your Kids. She is a stay-at-home mom to an energetic three-year-old, Juliet. They spend their days together reading books, attempting crafts, and occasionally beating tree trunks with large sticks. You can read more about their adventures at Silly Eagle Books.