I've been thinking about terms of endearment…

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:14&15 (ESV)

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For a couple of years now I have been affectionately addressing my mom as “Little Mother” when I call her on Sunday afternoons. I know she loves it because she always responds with a charming girlish giggle.

Recently I was telling my friend, Linda, about my mom and it reminded her that when she was a little girl, she uniquely cared for her dolls which earned her the nickname “Lillemor” in Norwegian meaning, lille (“little”) + mor (“mother”). Linda grew up to be an excellent mother to seven children. Amazingly, she finds space in her heart to care deeply for her friends as well and having experienced her loving, she will be known to me as “Lillemor” forever!

Terms of endearment are ways of saying I love you each time we address friends and loved ones. When our first granddaughter arrived, Darryl joked that he wanted to be called, “Sir Gramps”. Our granddaughter’s first attempts came out sort of like “cigar” which we rapidly revised to “Sugar”. In our family, one of our affectionate names for Darryl is Sugar still today.

Using pet names has a bonding effect—a way of solidifying an attachment and creating a feeling of safety and connection. They bring walls down and allow space for honest, care-free conversations where both parties feel the freedom to communicate in play-like conversations and interactions which are critical for closeness and wellbeing.

To feel close to a Holy God, I must have definite assurance of my standing in grace and of my relationship to Him. Because the Holy Spirit bears unmistakable witness to my spirit that I am a child of God, I am guaranteed the privileges of a personal relationship with my loving Heavenly Father.

Abba was an intimate name used by children for their fathers in Bible times. It combines some of the intimacy of the English word “papa” while retaining the dignity of the word “father,” being both informal and yet respectful. It was among the first words a child learned to speak.

Only a son or daughter can use the term of endearment, “Abba, Father!”