A little while ago we took the family to Walt Disney World. If you know anything about our family it's the closest to heaven on earth for us. Our daughter, now being three years old and understanding what's going on, loved it. Specifically meeting every character the Walt Disney Company has ever created. But one of her favorites (and ours) was Merida.
Mainly because Merida loved our daughter. She immediately hugged her, got on the ground with her, played with her, listened to her stories, it was very obvious that Merida was having a ton of fun with our little one. So much fun that at the end she did something that this princess does not do very often. She gave our daughter a kiss on the forehead, bright read lipstick painting the fact she loved the Little Miss. And for the rest of the day we heard about it, people at Disney saw it and asked (and were surprised it was Merida). Even now at home she will see pictures of herself with the lips on her forehead and get all giggly.
Fast forward to the other night. We were at our church's Ash Wednesday service. At the end we went up to get the ashes on our foreheads and, or course, the little one was covering her forehead saying "no". We didn't push, she doesn't understand, so mom and dad got ours and we went back to our seats. Our daughter looked at us, you could tell she was a little puzzled, but then burst into telling everyone about how she was kissed on the forehead by Merida. She saw the marks on our foreheads and immediately associated it with her own from Disney.
It was great to hear this, take a step back, and think about it. In many ways this is Christ kissing our foreheads, it's a mark of our love for Christ and His love for us. It's bigger than ashes one day a week, we are marked by Christ as His. Much like our daughter remembers the love of a princess because of the kiss that left a mark on her we can remember the love of Christ for us by the mark He leaves on us.
Ephesians 1:13b ~ When you heard the true teaching—the Good News about your salvation—you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. (NCV)
Ashes and lipstick fade but being loved lasts forever.