Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some thoughts on mothering

I don't think a day often goes by without being struck by the intensity with which I love my daughter. Now, trust me when I say I don't think I'm perfect at it... I make mistakes constantly. I am incredibly selfish and I struggle to give her my undivided attention. But the fierce loyalty, the heart-achlingly deep affection and wonder I have at this little person... honestly it sometimes brings me to the point of tears. How could someone so small, with nothing to give and no way to earn my love, occupy such a deep place in my heart?

There are a few things that come to my mind when I consider my love for Annie. The first is that to see how deeply I treasure her reveals a truth about the heart of all mothers, not just me. We can't help but love our children. It's built into our very nature. This is beautiful because it allows us to give sacrificially as we nurture our children despite sleep deprivation, isolation, hormones, tantrums, and everything in between.

When I thought about this recently, I began to think of my own mother. There were times in my childhood when I questioned whether she truly loved me, and a handful of heartbreaking memories could threaten the hope that she did indeed. But what I recognize is that, apart from Christ, her ability to act in love was hindered by the effects of sin. I believe her love for me must have been as life-altering as mine is for Annie, she was just unable to give it perfectly. I think that's how some women end up being abusive (or worse) mothers... the evils of our sinful nature and the power of the Enemy rob us of the ability to live and love as Christ did.

Anyway, I began to feel sad as I thought about all this. That, though she (and all mothers, for that matter) did not do the job perfectly, there is a deep, deep place in her heart that is full of love for me. But I am unable to reciprocate that love to the same degree. Let me explain: I love my mom a lot, and we have a great relationship despite a rocky past, but the strength with which I love her is incomparable to the intensity with which I love my daughter. And I don't think that's wrong. In fact, I'm convinced that when Annie is grown and has a family of her own, she will (and should) treasure and devote herself to her children in a way that she can't to me. Perhaps that's the nature of love that's built upon giving yourself away: the less they've done to earn it, the more sincere the love is you give them.

Which brings me to my last thought: I, more than anything, was undeserving of the love of Christ. There was nothing I did to earn it. The offenses I commit against Him daily are far more severe than waking up at 3 am to eat, or spitting up on a new outfit. How great must be God's deep longings of love for us! Of course this is true, how could I have not seen it before? Only such heart-wrenching love could have caused a Father to give his own Son away to death. I knew I was loved by God long before I became a mother. But it took this gift of a precious little child to open my eyes, though only a glimpse compared to His, to see how selfless love can truly be.

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