To Love a Child

“You will learn more about yourself through parenting than probably any other endeavor.” These wise words were spoken to me by my mother when I had just one, young, son. Nearly twenty years, and three additional boys, has certainly revealed things about myself that have thrilled my soul, as well as some not as pleasant. But, in my continued effort to fill my heart with good things, I find the following quote to hit the nail on the head:

Parenting is a journey–an inner journey, an outer journey and a journey of the heart. Parenting brings us to unimagined heights and unparalleled lows. It has the potential to transform our souls, heal our wounds and lift our hearts. But it also has the power to reduce us to tears, time and time again. Parenting can bring out the very worst in our behavior, even when our intentions are stellar. Every wart we thought we had hidden will somehow be exposed in the process of parenting. No experience has the potency to touch us, challenge us, or transform us like the process of loving a child. Parenting offers us lessons in how to grow and to strive and to seek. If we choose to open our hearts to the possibility of transformation, our children will teach us how to love, how to forgive and how to be full expressions of our deepest selves, if only we let them. Their love has the potential to crack open the hardest parts of our hearts, just as our love has the potential to carry them through their lives knowing they are cherished. Under the Chinaberry Tree: Books and Inspirations for Mindful Parenting, xiv.

I believe that parenting is one method of peeling back layers of ourselves that might otherwise remain unseen. But, it also wondrously highlights God’s unconditional, unchanging love for us. Knowledge of how he cherishes us does have the potential to carry us through all the ups and downs of this life. His love, so vast, so profound, reaches out and surrounds us like a comforting blanket.

Yet, within that same embrace, we have such a safe place for our “warts” to be revealed. Being in his presence is like holding up a life sized mirror showing our complete selves, all of our glorious beauty along with our imperfections. Just like we love our own sweet, precious sometimes rotten children despite any flawed behavior, he loves us completely, wholly.

However, the image of our reflection ultimately ought to begin to reflect less of our selves and more of our Savior. As he wraps us up in his loving embrace, he reaches into our darkest places, if we let him. He alone has the ability to replace those dark recesses with his brilliant glory (2 Cor. 3:18.) Parenting is certainly teaching me more about myself than I would have ever dared to ask. But, it is also teaching me more about my heavenly parent. I am more appreciative of being unconditionally loved as his child, warts and all, now that I have learned what it is to love a child, warts and all, unconditionally.

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