What Becoming a Parent Has Taught Me about God

mother and baby

A couple of weeks ago, a friend who was in town on an errand stopped by my house. We stood around and chatted for a bit, and she left me some freshly-picked fruit, while Lydia looked on from her high chair. It was early in the morning and we’d just had breakfast.

Before my friend left, as she was saying goodbye, she walked over to Lydia, bent over, and kissed her on the cheek.

That little act of love toward my daughter shot me right in the heart. And in that moment, I realized something. I kinda know, a little bit, how God feels.

I feel like I first have to clarify that my friend’s affection for my baby girl felt entirely different from what my in-laws or parents show her, since my daughter belongs to them, too. Their affection is natural and expected. But my friend has no special, biological attachments to my daughter. She’s just a friend. Her love, then, came from somewhere different.

There is nothing my friend could have done to show a deeper love for me than to show love to my baby. It went through Lydia and into the deepest part of me.

To love Lydia is to love me.

Now that I have a daughter, perhaps the best way to show love to me is to show love to her. The greatest gift you could possibly give me is affection for my child. Love her and my heart is yours.

Conversely, if you don’t love her, we can never have a very strong relationship. I’m sorry. She’s too close to my heart.

Scripture suggests that it works the same way with God: Jesus tells us that whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for him (Matt 25:40). Likewise, If we hate any of God’s children, we cannot love God (1 John 4:20).

I get it now.

My child had her beginning inside of me. I felt her first movements as flickers inside of me. She was once a part of my body, and now she walks (well, crawls) around with a piece of my soul inside of her. We share our days and our nights. We sleep with our hearts pressed against each other; she drinks milk from my body and my soul feasts on the sound of her voice as she sucks and hums herself to sleep.

Any harm that comes to her brings me pain. Any joy that comes to her brings me peace and happiness.

How much more must God love his children, whom he deliberately formed with his own hands? Into whom he breathed his very breath? He was intimately involved in the division of each cell as the zygote became an embryo, and then a fetus . . . he sustained each molecule as they became a heart and lungs and fingernails and eyelashes; he heard the first thoughts and felt each emotion of every human who ever lived.

Jesus demonstrated the intensity of his love when he willingly endured prolonged torture and a slow, humiliating, excruciating death for his children, with the hopes that each one would choose to spend eternity with him.

Anything we do to any one of his children – for good or evil — cuts straight to his heart.

I get that now.

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  1. That was beautifully written, and I agree 100%
    I just wanted you to know that I do keep up with reading your blog and I really enjoy reading your thoughts and opinions…it gives me an opportunity to feel connected to you even though we rarely spend time together. We need to plan that park date again soon!!

  2. This post is sooooo beautiful! Thank you.

  3. Love it! Another piece that Sim has talked about in his men’s study: Our Stephen was locked in such an intense battle of wills at one point. He was asked to do something, and he dug in his heels and said no. There was no cajoling, threatening, etc. etc. This went on the whole rest of the day, and the whole night long. Sim and I prayed, cried (what happened to our baby?!?) had intense fellowship over what the next step should be. Finally, halfway through Day Two, Stephen gave in. With a whole heart. That feeling of reconciliation, intense gratitude that he understood, the whole thing was almost too much. I was struck with the realization that this may be what it’s like when we return to God after a period of rebellion. I totally understood how He can forgive us, so quickly, and wipe it from His memory. It was a very beautiful moment.

    • I guess parenting offers lots of opportunities to discover, on some level, what God feels. Well, all relationships, really. The same can be said for marriage. It makes sense that He often uses the metaphor of father and bridegroom, then, doesn’t it?

  4. I wanted to comment last night but decided to send you a personal message instead. This morning, I woke up at 5am to my daughter and her sleepover friend being loud and boisterous! After going in their room, reprimanding them, and then laying with them till they fell asleep again, I knew I needed a good dose of something. Just then, your post popped into my head.

    I realize your post is a beautiful revelation to treat people with the dignity and respect due them since they are God’s image bearers and since loving God must involve loving others, but I want to reflect a bit more personally. … I feel like a failure!!! Lately, I’ve been battling within, trying to become a person that is more kind, more gentle, less worried about what other people think. Well, with that has come some tiredness – I just started my third trimester in my third pregnancy – among other discomforts. My behaviour, as a result, has been the opposite of what I’ve been striving towards. Daily I go to bed dejected because so many opportunities for me to respond in grace, love and peace, were instead met with anger and harsh tones.

    This morning when my girls woke me, I knew I needed to do something different. As I reflected on the truth you spoke, and as I read Scripture, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in John 14:10a, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” Just as we feel such kindred spirit with those that show love and affection to our children – whom we’ve shared such a special bond – and our spouses – whom we are one with through marriage – it is also reciprocated right back. My daughters, this baby inside me, feel the same way about me as I do about them. Trinity, as she was falling back asleep brushed her hand on my face and said, “Mommy I love you!” When I was crying two days ago out of defeat, she wanted to know what was wrong, in order to comfort me, to fix it. Jesus and the Father are One! My children and I are One! Likewise, my husband and I are One! How beautiful! It comforts me and motivates me today!

    And one more thing – as I reflected on those thoughts, I also came across Psalm 23:5 where it says, “my cup overflows with blessings.” In Jesus’ day an overflowing cup meant that the host, at whose table you were sitting, enjoyed your company so much that he wanted you to stay. Today, my cup overflows for my children! Today, my cup overflows with blessings even for myself (if I can say that)! I long to commune with them, to share love with them. I long to do that for me, so that I can remain in Jesus, in His company since His cup overflows for us first!

  5. Just a side note, sorry for the long post; I needed to share it. Thanks for listening. :)

  6. Beautiful post. Becoming a parent has totally deepened my understanding of God’s love for me and all his children.
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  7. I don’t think it’s the pregnancy hormones, this honestly just made me cry because it’s so true and beautiful, and awesome! Being a mom is incredible! Love your writing. And Lydia’s little bangs are to die for.
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  8. This is so beautiful. And though I am not a parent, I relate to it on the level that I am in the social services field…This gives a greater perspective on why we are called to love and to serve all of God’s children. We love Him by loving His children. Wow!

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