I have found the journey of parenthood to be the ultimate training on how to love.
The priority of God’s Kingdom, the ultimate greatest commandments are to love God and love people. The entire message of the Gospel all comes down to LOVE.
Often we hear that and are convicted to live out more compassionate lives of service. To love the “least of these”, to love the “unloveable”. I feel I have done that throughout my life and encouraged others to do the same as we ran our missions camp reaching out, showing love in practical ways. It is always a powerful experience to love this way, it is always a hint of heaven touching earth when we express God’s love to others through service. This is our call if we follow Jesus, to love those in need by meeting their needs.
Yet, in some ways it seems to me to be easier to show love to strangers, to show love to those less fortunate. The hardest ones to love… are those you brush up against every single day. I find that much more is required of us to always put others before ourselves and honor and love those around us every minute of every day. Maybe it’s the husband who doesn’t put his clothes in the hamper, or maybe the cubicle partner you sit next to every day at the office who smacks his gum in such a way you’d swear it was nails on a chalkboard, or maybe it’s the child who throws his food at every single meal, or the other child who can’t seem to find her shoes. Ever! Yes, these are the moments, the opportunities to learn to really love. This is the hard work of love.
Now of course I have an overwhelming love in my heart for my children. But to demonstrate and live that love out in the everyday… those moments when all I feel is impatience towards one of them? The very first line used to describe love in the infamous 13th chapter of First Corinthians says “Love is patient…” oh but I am far from it! And how then can I claim to love?
It goes on to say that “Love is not self-seeking” either and while I love the time I have with my children…. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pine away for a moment I might just eat a meal in peace or have a complete thought. Parenthood is the ultimate training in selflessness. The ultimate experience of constantly putting the needs of others first. Parenthood grows us up into more loving and giving people. It transforms us into vessels God’s love can pour out of.
There are things I know God has called me to do. I am also very aware that there are seasons to our lives and the season in which I currently find myself is not the season for those things. There are moments I find myself wondering why I am not off doing some grandiose expression of God’s love to the world. Something of lasting impact for the kingdom. Something important and significant.
And then I realize that I am. That I am a student in the school of learning to love God’s way. For in learning to love in all circumstances, at all times, I learn to manifest God’s love to my children. Daily praying that I can model the love Father God has for them. Through parenthood I am being trained to love God’s people in a more patient and selfless way that will manifest the heart of Father God for all His children. These little ones entrusted to me are world changers… it is in their DNA and I am charged with the mission to foster and grow that within them by leading them into the heart of God and into their destinies as loved children that will have a lasting impact on God’s kingdom. They will be agents of God’s love to the world. It starts with me loving them by the Grace of God, allowing God’s love to flow through me even when they throw tantrums or lose their shoes for the 14th time that day.
1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (Amplified Bible)
3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or [a] in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.
4Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
5It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
6It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
7Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].