(304) 757-9222 connect@tvcog.org

Motherhood has taught me about the love of God.

The love a mother or father has for a child is instant.  It’s the only love you don’t choose.  It simply exists because that child is yours. When I was expecting our first child, I was concerned that I wouldn’t even know how to love and care for another life in the way that motherhood would demand, but there hasn’t been a day when I have questioned the love I have for my kids.  I have doubted if I was doing a good job as a mom, but there has never been a day that I have doubted my love for my kids.  No matter what they have done or have left undone, my love for them has remained complete and full. 

Motherhood has opened a window of understanding to the way God loves me. It has expanded my understanding about how God loves me unconditionally.  Just like I love my kids simply because they are mine, so too, God loves each person He has created with an everlasting love.  Our sin, our bad choices, our willful disobedience, while it breaks His heart, it doesn’t diminish His love for us.  God hasn’t loved me any less at my worst, than He has loved me at my best.

Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  When we were everything unlovable, when we disobeyed God, when we lived to please ourselves, when we ignored His warnings, when we distanced ourselves from God and His plans for our lives, when we disrespected and disregarded Him, when our actions and attitudes said, “I hate you, God,” He still loved us. 

I John 4:8 says that God is love.  It is His essence.  It is His go-to.  It is what He is always wanting to express.  It motivates His action toward us.  My kids have never had to earn my love.  It is simply in my heart for them.  It is what I want to convey to them.  It is what I never want them to doubt.  “I love you” is spoken often at our house and in our family group text.  I want my kids to know beyond a doubt that I love them and that I always will.  There is a security that comes from that reality.  It is foundational to their identity to know that I love them. 

The same is true for us as believers.  It is foundational to our identity to know we are loved by God.  The unconditional love of God shapes our identity.  When we accept God’s love and become His children, we receive a love that leads us to a purposeful life.  It gives us confidence to exercise faith because we know that even if we fail, we know that we know that we know that God has us.  In those moments, failure then, simply becomes refining instead of defining.  God’s love makes us better.  It gives us the security we need to keep growing in our walk with Christ.  I guess you could say that the love of God provides a safety net for us.

Not only has motherhood increased my understanding of God’s unconditional love, but it has helped me understand the sacrificial nature of God’s love.  God loves us sacrificially.  Loving parents make all kinds of sacrifices in order to nurture and protect their children. Moms, you know what I’m talking about when I say we first sacrifice our bodies for our kids.  Any moms in the house who know what I’m talking about? I had such a tough time with both of my pregnancies I might liken it to a hostile takeover.  I had no choice but to give in to their demands, and when I didn’t, there was a swift kick in the ribs to get me to comply!  What I gave up in those two nine months stints, I have never recovered.  It was a sacrifice for sure.

Parenting starts with sacrificing sleep so that babies can be properly cared for.  Sometimes that lasts a long, long time.  In those early years, parenting is literally all-consuming. Your time becomes devoted to feeding, clothing, teaching and assisting your kids.  Parents take on extra jobs in order to provide for their kids. Having kids is expensive.  In 2020 it was estimated that it costs $233,610 just to raise one child to the age of 17!  (How many trips to Hawaii would that mean that we sacrificed in order to be parents, Honey?)

Parents spend more time in the car than they personally enjoy as they drive kids to and from their activities.  They get up early to prep for the day and stay up late to make sure the laundry is done for the next day.  They forgo personal activities to support their kids’ ambitions. You give up a tremendous amount of freedom in order to become a parent.  Peace and quiet and privacy, as you know it, no longer exists. Every day is a “go the extra mile” day when you are a parent.  It is a sacrifice…a great reward and joy for sure, but a sacrifice, nonetheless. Worth it, but a sacrifice.

God’s love for us is sacrificial.  What I have done for my children pales in comparison to the way God has sacrificed Himself for me.  He spared no expense as He gave His only Son, Jesus, the sinless righteous and only perfect One, to take my place on Calvary’s cross.  An innocent, died in place of the guilty so that I could go free.  You know those moments when you watch your kids struggle, when you suffer because they are hurting, when you would do anything to trade places with them, to take their punishment, to take their pain?  Yeah, that’s what Jesus actually did on the cross.  Motherhood, parenting, gives us a glimpse of the extremes that God has gone to in order to remove the guilt, shame and condemnation that sin produces and to remove the sting of death from us.  Jesus literally traded places with us on the cross because He wanted to, because He could, so that we could have peace with God and eternal life in Heaven.  He sacrificed His very life so that we could have life and life more abundant, John 10:10.

Not only has motherhood enabled me to have a clearer view of the unconditional love of God and the sacrificial love of God, but it also has helped me see that God loves me perfectly.  Perfect love expresses whatever is truly needed and will be for someone’s benefit.  That means that sometimes discipline is called for.  I learned through the years of raising my children that sometimes, “No,” was the most loving word I could utter.  I also learned that when learning and correction needed to take place, discipline was the most loving response I could offer. 

I have loved my kids enough to not want them to continue in destructive behaviors.  I have loved them enough to want to correct character flaws that would create problems with people down the road.  Who they needed to become was more important than making them happy in the moment.  In other words, I loved them too much to let them stay as they were.

Listen, if God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t discipline us.  Hebrews 12:6 tells us the Lord disciplines those He loves. That is what makes His love perfect! He cares deeply about our quality of life.  He doesn’t want us going off the rails, running amuck, having to deal with the consequences and relational heartache and personal ruin that come from stupidity and integrity issues that could be corrected immediately with some appropriate discipline.  As hard as it was to spank our kids when they were little or to put them in time out when they got into elementary school or to ground them and take away their phone in the later years, it was the most loving thing we could do.  We loved them enough to make sure they knew what acceptable behavior was.  We loved them enough to make sure they knew there were expectations and a God-given standard by which we were training them to live.  It’s the way God loves us.

I am so thankful that God doesn’t leave us as He finds us.  I’m so glad that He doesn’t just love us in spite of our flaws and accept poor attitudes, bad behavior, disrespect and narcissistic and self-centered motives from us, letting us ruin our lives.  He has better for us.  He wants better for us.  He wants us to enjoy life, and left to do our own thing, left to run our own lives, left to figure life out on our own, we won’t succeed.  God wants what is best for us, and in order for us to experience that, we have to experience correction. 

So, motherhood has given me a glimpse into the way God loves me.  In addition, Motherhood has taught me the value of time.  When we moved here from Cincinnati, our kids were 4 and 6.  I thought those elementary years would never end.  They seemed to stretch ahead of us forever.  Middle School, however, was like the snap of a finger, and then I started to realize, time was truly fleeting.  The older you get, the faster it goes.  How would I make the most of those final four high school years?  Where had the time gone?  Where was the rewind button? 

I’d give anything to see some of those firsts again.  The first steps, the first time they tied their shoes by themselves, the first time they got on the bus and looked so big, the first time they jumped off of the diving board at the pool, the first time they road their bicycle without training wheels.  So many, “Mom, look at me,” moments that are precious memories.  So many proud moments have taken place over the years, moments when my proud and swollen heart made my eyes leak.  So many moments I would love to repeat, but they are gone forever. 

One unknown author captured the passing of time from a mother’s perspective in these words: 

There is a last time for everything.  There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time. They will fall asleep on you after a long day, and it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down, and never pick them up that way again. You will scrub their hair in the bath for one last time, and from that day on they will want to bathe alone.

They will hold your hand to cross the road, then will never reach for it again.  They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles, and it will be the last night you ever wake to this.

One afternoon you will sing “The Wheels on the Bus” and do all the actions, then never sing them that song again.

They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate.  The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.

You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.  They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time, until there are no more times. And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times, remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.  For one last time.

God tells us in Ephesians 5:16 to make the most of every opportunity, to redeem the time. Moms and Dads of young kids, it goes fast.  I didn’t believe it for years.  Now I do. Cherish every stage.  Live in the moment with your kids as you prepare them for the day when your influence is greatly diminished and when your direct oversight is no more.  Say everything you can say now.  Model everything you can model now.  Teach them everything you can now about the importance of walking with Jesus, about Bible reading, prayer, and personal testimony.  Prepare them now for the world as they will find it later.  The most precious thing you have as a parent is time with your kids.  Don’t wish it away.  One day you will wish you had it to do all over again, but it won’t be so. 

So, motherhood has taught me about the love of God, the value of time, and also, Motherhood has taught me that I need a tribe.

It takes a village.  This church has been our tribe!  Thom and I have needed and appreciated the support, encouragement, and reinforcement for our family that has come in and through the church, the Body of Christ, especially since we raised our kids away from the support of our families.  Through this church we have had extra sets of eyes and ears which has been so beneficial. We have had wonderful examples of Christian parenting to follow.  We have had other adults take a special interest in our kids.  We have appreciated times when people showed up to watch Josh play basketball or when folks went to support Hannah in a dance recital.  We have been thankful that they have confided in other adults here at church when they were struggling and needed someone to talk to.  It hasn’t ever threatened me that there have been other strategic, helpful, Christian adults to mentor our kids.  I’m glad they have “2nd moms” and other places to hang out. I’m ecstatic that they have other adults who know how to pray and counsel them. 

Now, I know the parents of your kids’ soccer team can be a tribe or your neighbors around you can be your tribe, but if your tribe doesn’t include Christian people who believe the Word of God, who know how to speak it in practical ways, who know how to instruct your kids in godly ways, who know how to pray, you need an additional tribe.

And I just need to tell you that the tribe God has placed on the earth to influence your kids and to support you in your parenting is the church.  God’s design is that our faith would be passed on and nurtured as we do life with each other.  The Bible says that iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) but you miss the sharpening sessions, your kids miss the sharpening opportunities, if you aren’t in church.  Now, I know the past fourteen months have been unusual, so there is no judgment going on.  I’m just saying it critical that children are consistently, regularly in church where they can receive formal biblical instruction and learn how to worship because the byproduct of that will be relationships that will form that you will need to lean on in the days ahead.  Those relationships will be critical down the road.  You don’t know now what your kids will be dealing with in a year or three years or five, and you need them to have other go-to people that can support them when life is challenging as we know it will be.  You will never regret making a commitment to be here on Sundays and Wednesdays.  It is one practice you can put in place that will give your family greater stability and your kids a better chance of staying the course with God.

So, motherhood has taught me about the love of God, the value of time, the importance of having a tribe, and finally, Motherhood has taught me how to rely on God.

I thought I knew how to pray, but becoming a mom took my prayer life to a whole new level, and I’m not speaking first about prayers for my kids.  I’m talking about prayers for myself to become the person my kids would need. I don’t have what it takes to be a good mom.  I don’t.  I have had to pray that God would grow me. I’m talking about asking God to show me my blind spots.  I’m referring to my need to have peace and not second-guess every decision I made as a parent, about not beating myself up in moments when I didn’t get it right.  I’m talking about leaning into the grace of God for myself and oh, the refining that has come to me personally through motherhood, I can’t begin to describe the ways God has made me new.  I am so thankful.

Of course, motherhood has also driven me to my knees for my kids. As parents, we want to do all we can to protect our kids, to dot every “I” and cross every “T,” to plant all wisdom and knowledge before it is needed so that they don’t fail or suffer unnecessary hurt, and I have prayed that it would be so. I have prayed for my kids to have a heart for God.  I have prayed for their salvation, their future mates, their career choices.  I have prayed for my kids to grow in favor with God and man.  I have prayed for open doors and opportunities.  I have prayed for them to succeed.  I have prayed for them to remain humble and coachable.  I have prayed for their safety and well-being.  I have prayed they would make good decisions. I have prayed they would embrace the things Thom and I have tried to instill in them.  But the truth is, Thom and I cannot be everywhere.  We could not make sure they would never be on the receiving end of rejection or heartache.  We could not sit with them on the bus.  We could not pull up the desk next to them at school.  We could not go with them to the friend’s house to make sure nothing bad happened.  We couldn’t go to the after-prom parties with our kids to chaperone the goings on.  We couldn’t take every car ride to make sure they saw every traffic sign and light. 

Letting them grow and go has been probably the most difficult part of parenting, but it has been the most beneficial part for me as a parent in terms of growing my relationship with God.

I cannot always be with my kids, but God can, and He is.  Knowing that I can pray and trust God to be at work in their lives has given me the peace to be freed from anxiety and worry and a desire to control their circumstances.  God knows what I can’t know about them.  He knows what they truly need.  He sees what I can’t see, and He can do for them what I could never do.  If I ever questioned if God was trustworthy or faithful, motherhood has proven it is so.

Whether you are a parent or not, I think God wants to invite you to experience His love in a deeper way than you have ever experienced it before.  I believe He is calling you to evaluate how you are making the most of the moments He has given you.  I think He is asking you to prioritize time with your tribe and is calling you to be faithful in your church attendance, and I believe He is calling you to trust Him to take care of those you love as you release them to Him in prayer.  These are just four things that motherhood has taught me.

%d bloggers like this: