By Angie Wilson
Did you gasp as you read the title? Did you stop in your tracks and emphatically respond, “Well, of course I love my children!”
Reflect on your week…or maybe even your last five minutes.
Disobedience. Messy rooms. Bad attitudes. Incomplete chores. Sibling rivalry.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Marriage conferences and relationship seminars enforce and reinforce that we are called to love those that are sometimes unlovable. And of course we know this is true because God’s Word tells us to do so.
Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
How often do you think of Jesus’ command in John 15 in relation to your children?
Over the course of the last several months, I have clearly heard God asking me, “Do you really love your children? Do you love them as I love you? Do they see Me in you?” I remember a day not long ago where I heard His still, small voice loud and clear.
I was dealing with the same issues all mothers deal with (and we all deal with them despite the enemy’s voice in your head that tells you otherwise). Unfortunately, I found myself responding to my children’s sin in my nasty flesh. Although I’ve made this mistake more than once (or twice or hundreds of times), this day gripped my heart in a new way. And God is presently and consistently reminding me of this same truth.
I remember walking through a season in my marriage where God strongly convicted me about loving my husband as He loves me and offering the same grace to him that Jesus Christ offered to me. I was now facing these same convictions about my precious boys. For some reason, it seemed more difficult to face the condition of my heart in the area of loving my children.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I adore my boys. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than with my husband and children. I’m the mom who cries on the first day of school (every.single.year.) and then again after Christmas and Spring breaks. But my eyes began to be opened to how I loved them at their worst moments. When they talk back or disobey or roll their eyes. When they look at me like I just may be the dumbest human on the planet. When they raise their voices or spin on their heels to walk away as I’m in the middle of a sentence. When they fail to make a wise decision in a difficult moment. When they react in anger when they don’t get their way.
How did I love them in those moments?
What about the times I respond similarly to my Heavenly Father? I often talk back to Him. I do not always obey immediately. Sometimes I roll my eyes and act as though my plan makes way more sense than His. I’ve walked away many times as He’s speaking conviction to my heart. And I have certainly failed to make wise decisions in difficult moments.
His response is grace filled. Long suffering. Gentle. Compassionate. Sympathetic. Full of understanding. And most of all, He responds in love.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine)
While I was in the midst of sin, Christ loved me. Before I was even born and He knew all the wrong I would do, He willingly laid down His life for me.
He tells me to love this same way.
This doesn’t negate discipline or consequences. God’s Word clearly tells us that we have a choice between life and death, blessing and curse. He will not allow us to get away with sin and He takes it very seriously. We, as moms, should also take seriously our children breaking the laws of God.
I am challenged to respond and react to my children’s shortcomings in the same way Jesus responds to mine. In love. He is always willing to scoop us up and take us back after we’ve fallen flat on our face in sin. He never says, “I’ve had it with you. That’s it!”
Spend some time with your Heavenly Father, the perfect parent. Ask Him to shine His holy spotlight into the corners of your heart. Do your children see the love of Jesus in your reactions and responses? Even when they sin? Repent if necessary. Apologize and ask forgiveness if you’ve not been loving them like Jesus. And then start fresh. When they mess up, pause and consider the cross of Jesus Christ. Consider His love for you and offer the same to your little flock.
“As God relates to us as His children, so we must relate to our children.” (Steven J. Cole)