Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why Children?

Why children? Long ago, I often pondered why God didn’t just create all the people He wanted to make in the beginning. Why would He set up a system in which He would partner with a man and woman each time in making a new soul?

Surely some great theologians have already answered this question, but I must have missed their responses during my religious training. Therefore, I am not in a position to share the thoughts of any other great mind, only my own. ;)

When I first had children, what amazed me most was the love. How could there be so much love in me for these little people? Sometimes I could hardly stand it. How could I have so much feeling inside me for people who had done nothing whatsoever to earn my love? As I gazed upon my small people while these overwhelming emotions regularly surged through me, I had an epiphany. “Father, is this, this how You feel about me?” Talk about a shocker. Sure I could preach about God’s love for people. Intellectually, I certainly knew that God loved me. However, I never came close to truly grasping the concept in my heart until I understood that I, a mere mortal, could have so much love for my own children. And God called me His child.

Then my little darlings learned how to misbehave. Oh, could they irritate me. Oh, how they could frustrate a person! Yet, even in the midst of irritation, I was aware of a love that constrained me. Another epiphany. “Oh, Lord. I get it! No matter how messy I am, no matter how often I soil my spiritual diaper, throw temper tantrums, or disobey You, You are never so angry with me that You wish I wasn’t Yours.” This was a tremendous revelation to me. I have often not qualified as a “good Christian”. Often I would wonder how God could put up with me (and a lot of other people on the face of the planet for that matter). Why didn’t He just disown me and be done with it? Now I had my answer. Just as I’ve told my children all their lives that there’s absolutely nothing they can do to make me stop loving them, there is likewise nothing I can do to make my Father change His commitment to me.

Punishment and discipline were other things I grew to understand more in my role as parent. Punishment, for example, is not meant to be about expressing anger. Discipline and punishment are tools in a parent's arsenal to teach her offspring right from wrong, to mold them into decent human beings who can control themselves so they will not find themselves being controlled by prison guards later in life. So too, sometimes God has to correct His children. Never does He discipline His children in order to make Himself feel better, but He does it in love to mold us into the image of His dear Son.

The children's visits to the doctor to receive vaccinations were difficult times for me. I would bundle the children up, whisk them off to the doctor, and then at the end of the visit would come vaccination time. Forms to sign were placed in front of me saying that I understood all the side effects that could occur. Then I would have to hold my wee ones still so they could be hurt, so they could be helped. It was so awful not to be able to explain to them why this was happening. Their young minds could not begin to understand that in the long run vaccinations were in their best interest. Would they trust me after that? Through those experiences, I grew to understand that when bad things happen, I may not be able to understand why, but I can be sure that God is holding me close the whole time, and that somehow He will make sure that everything is in my best interest.

Not only did I learn much about the character and nature of God through being a parent myself, I also grew in character. Being a mom meant that it wasn’t all about me. I promised God that I would always put the children's needs ahead of my own needs. I was, after all, the grown-up. They were just kids. They were going to need a lot. They would need a lot of love. They would need someone to cook for them, to clean them, to wash their clothes, to teach them right and wrong, to transport them, to nurse them when ill, to reassure them when they were sad or hurt, the list was endless. I would need to change. What a revelation to know that there were other people infinitely more important than myself.

I have learned a measure of patience and forbearance. Yes, there would be those days when little people would shriek over whose turn it was to get the yellow cup or some such ridiculous thing. I had to bear with them in their immaturity. I wondered if I sounded that way to God sometimes with my silly complaints over things that lacked eternal significance.

I have learned gratitude and the value of hard work. Falling into bed exhausted at night, I learned to pray, “Thank You, Lord, for another day to serve my family. Thank You for the strength to do so. Please grant me yet another such day tomorrow.” That’s a big prayer for someone who is basically allergic to manual labor!

Additionally, I have learned more dependence upon God. Facing some difficult circumstances, I was driven to my knees. Surely the God who gave me this family could give me the wisdom to handle all that came our way. All families face difficulties to various extents. All parents raise their children with no guarantee that they will turn out okay in the end. Having not even a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, I walked by faith. And knowing now that that faith was not in vain can only help me when I face hard times in the future.

Lastly, I recovered from my arrogance in thinking that I could ever truly understand God or explain Him to another. Little children, for example, cannot begin to grasp the adult thoughts and actions for their parents. So too, I realized that I would always be as a very small child in comparison to God. And that is enough. Yes, if all I ever understood was that my Father was big and in charge and that He loved me, that would indeed be enough. The mysteries of the universe could wait.

I’ve concluded finally that the process by which God chose to populate the earth had everything to do with what was best for us. Even with my fallen nature, parenting did more for my life, my character, my sense of personal fulfillment than any other choice I’ve ever made. True, I've got a long way to go, but He's taught me so much. Sure these concepts are all in His Word, but nothing cements a truth in the soul like an object lesson. In the end I discovered that once again God knew exactly what He was doing. I guess that's why He's God and I'm not.


At 9/02/2006 12:14 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Bringing up and teaching children teaches us a great deal about our relationship to God. The same trust, yet rebellion, the same love yet anger, the same growing slowly and stumbling mistakes. The same need to put things in terms a child can understand, because the greater truths are too big.

At 9/02/2006 6:31 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Great post. You know, C.S. Lewis framed a similar argument in Mere Christianity, but placed us more in line with beloved pets.

At 9/02/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Huh. I read Mere Christianity a long time ago. I wonder if I melded his thoughts with my own thoughts and experiences without realizing it. I'll have to pick it up again.

I understand putting us on the level of pets because I do think that a two year old is closer to an adult in understanding than an adult is as compared to God. However, my Father calls me His child. That is the analogy He choses again and again. As much as I loved my pets, pre-children, that love so pales in comparison to love for a child that it is not worthy of notice. I think God loves me that much and more.

At 9/03/2006 8:44 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Amen to that. Other than the total lack of a clue if we are doing it "right," I find that the training in servanthood has been invaluable. Still working on it, though. . . .

At 9/03/2006 11:54 AM, Blogger Karmyn R said...

nice post!

At 9/03/2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Malissa said...

excellent thoughts and so true.

At 9/05/2006 2:59 PM, Blogger AnonymousOpinion said...

One of your best posts AV!


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