Being a parent has taught me so much about life. It has taught me how to be patient, forgiving, and selfless. It has taught me that I’m not in control of everything, and that’s ok. It’s taught me that sometimes things don’t go as I planned or hoped, but instead they turn out way better than I could have expected. More importantly, being a parent has given me a glimpse of God’s love for us as his children. If we love our children unconditionally, meaning they didn’t earn it and can not do anything to make us love them less, then imagine how great God’s unconditional love is for us!
Luke 11:11-13 says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
In the 4 years since I have had children, I have thought a lot about how similar our relationship with our children is to our relationship with God. First of all, we are the providers for them. Our babies are completely dependent on us to provide things they need. We also are their guide in so many areas of life. From the very beginning, we teach them how to eat, walk, talk, how to be kind and patient and trusting.
In the same way, God provides us with what we really need, many times before we know to ask for it. He teaches us kindness and patience through the circumstances in our lives.
When our kids are sick or hurting, what do they do? They want to be held by us. When we as adults are sick or hurting, we are comforted by God who gives us “peace which passes all human understanding”.
More than that, we discipline our children much like God disciplines us. We know that there are consequences when we do something, already knowing it is the wrong decision. At the same time, we as parents are teaching our little kids that same concept.
I remember one time getting onto my 4 year old boy about something he did wrong. I was mad and spanked him. About 10 minutes later, he walked back in and said he was sorry, then hugged me. Not even an hour after that, he was doing the same thing again. I thought to myself, wow, that must be what we look like to God sometimes. We do something wrong, come back and ask for forgiveness, then do it again not long after. Remember, we don’t get onto our children because we are mean, or because we like seeing them upset (which we don’t), but we get onto them and discipline them out of love. We want to see them succeed and happy, but sometimes it takes a little tough love.
Hebrews 12:5 says, And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
So God doesn’t discipline us out of hatred, but out of love.
In the same way, I watch my 2 year old daughter trying to dress herself sometimes. I offer to help her, but she says no. Therefore, she gets stuck in the clothes and can’t figure it out, and I offer again to help. Finally, when she’s upset, she will walk over to me and say, “I can’t do it. Help me.” Of course I gladly help her get her clothes on.
The same thing happens with us and God. Rather than asking God to help us before we start, we try our best to do it alone. We work and struggle by ourselves. Then, finally, we give up and ask for God’s help. When in reality, He was there waiting for us to ask the whole time, just like we are waiting for our children to ask.
I also see similarities in our relationships in brokenness. Our children may misuse something or be careless with it, whether it’s a toy, or something sentimental to the parents. (Sorry, mama! I know we have done that.) So it ends up broken and the children come humbly to bring the broken item to the parents. “I’m sorry. Can you fix it?”
That’s exactly how we feel when we come to God with something that feels “broken”. “It’s broken. I need you to fix this.” It could be that we feel heartbroken by our circumstances, such as our marriage, or a death in the family. We might have had a terrible childhood and say “I feel broken, I need you to put me back together.” Even still, it could be a physical brokenness, such as cancer or a broken bone, and humbly asking God for His healing. I can just picture a small child bringing broken pieces in their hands to their parents, and at the same time, I can picture us bringing our broken pieces to God, trusting that He will put them back together.
Watching my children grow everyday also reminds me to enjoy the little things in life. They can go outside and be happy just playing with a dandelion, or chalk, or getting to pet someone’s dog. They truly enjoy the simple things in life. We asked our 4 year old to tell us a list of things that HE wanted to do over the weekend. He didn’t name any big trip that would cost money and time. He just named simple things that he enjoys, such as playing his favorite game, “Pop the Pig”, playing hide and go seek, and going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. That’s all he wanted for the weekend. My children remind me all the time to stop and appreciate the simple joys of life that God provides, such as the birds singing or a sunset. Although they are nice, we don’t have to have some expensive purchase or fancy vacation in order to have a reason to smile. We could simply enjoy a conversation with a friend or neighbor, or perhaps getting all green lights on the way to work.
Another way in which we are alike is that we, as parents, don’t hold grudges against our children when they hurt us or disappoint us. We couldn’t imagine holding a grudge against our child for something they did. God doesn’t hold grudges against us either. He doesn’t have any reason to, because He would rather forgive us when we ask and teach us how to be better. The unconditional love is still there, even if an attitude change is needed on our part or the child’s part.
Remembering that God chose to give us the role of parents, and how our relationship with our children very much resembles God’s love for us, brings us closer to both. We may have a hard time understanding God’s unconditional love for us when we don’t deserve it, but it is because we are His children. Once we have children of our own, we know there is nothing that could make a parent love their child any less.