Many are familiar with Robert Munsch’s famous book, Love You Forever. What those many may not know, however, is that Munsch drew those lines out of a deep well of grief:
I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.
Like Munsch, Christine Topijan invites us to sing with her, and this song is equally bittersweet. Jesus Loves You!, though written in a simple children’s format (the book is only 13 pages long), is a story that every adult can appreciate. Topijan reminds us of the bitter moments – that first day at a new school, fighting with parents, the moment when teenage love ends. She also reminds us of the sweetness to be found in the bitterness when we look back and realize that Jesus was there all along – faithful, true and unceasing in His outpouring of love.
Just as every adult needs these reminders, so, too, do children. They need to be taught from the earliest age that they don’t have to put on a happy face and deny their pain, but nor do they need to attempt to shoulder it alone. They need to know that when everything seems dark, Jesus is there, shining the light. They need to understand that they can reach out to Him anytime, any place. They need to feel His love expressed in the warm arms, listening ears and gentle voices of the adults in their lives as we teach them what it means to know and believe.
Topijan keeps it simple. She doesn’t waste a lot of ink and she doesn’t use the big words. Yet this book will easily stir up big conversations between parents and their children, conversations that should not be avoided. In this, Topijan aids readers everywhere in obeying the command of Deuteronomy 11:19 –
You shall teach them [God’s ways] to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.