In more ways than one, I feel like having a child has saved my life. The line in the Martina McBride song In My Daughter’s Eyes, “She was sent to rescue me,” simply nails it on the head.
I’ve posted about parenting before, admitting it was self defeating and relating fatherhood to God. But I’ve been thinking about it some more: here I was, just going by in life, thinking I had it all under control, so my husband and I decide we should reproduce. “A little one would be so much fun to raise!” we mused. So along came this tiny human being into our home, and on top of all the work he requires, he has managed to teach me so many lessons about life, and he doesn’t even have a clue he’s doing it. Having a child made me think more about life, and one day it hit me: now I’m able to view the world more like God does. We are all his sons and daughters, and he looks down on us- even as adults, with all the flaws and ugliness in character we accumulate- just as lovingly as we look down on our little ones.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all fun and games, and there’s not always so much time for such insightful pondering. Yes, children definitely add hardship to our lives, especially when we’re obligated to bring toddlers to non-kid-friendly places. I’ve learned to watch out for glass figurines on low shelves, as well as plates of almonds on coffee tables, you know- the kinds of things that are prominent in houses of people without kids. There are also those pesky unguarded staircases, and we’ve also ran into some ancient, short-tempered Shih Tzus when we’re out and about, visiting others’ houses. Oh, the exhausting chases that have ensued! Not even to mention the average of, oh, about 2 hours of sleep you get during the first 3 months of their lives.
But nothing actually worth pursuing is ever easy in life, so why should we expect parenting to be any different? Even throughout those exhausting days, an imperative task for us as parents to remember is to be thankful for what our kids offer us in return. What benefits do they offer us? Well, by having kids, God graciously assigned us the task of being an example of living a good life, so they will learn to do the same, too. Your habits will rub off on him or her, so live a legacy you want to see repeated for generations.
And my favorite benefit so far: having a whole new perspective on the world, that is, as I mentioned before, being able to better see the world from God’s point of view. You’re nurturing your precious little creation, just as God nurtures each and every one of us. True to my selfish nature, somehow I missed that until I had my own little one to cherish- I never realized God looked at me with so much love, until I looked at another creature the same way. Sure, I love my husband, friends, and other family members, but it was never in the same way that I love my own offspring.
If you’re not a parent, no worries: you don’t have to be one to be a great example, you’re already influencing everyone around you with every decision you make. So, if you want the world to be a better place, choose to be a good example. You know the saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And also if you’re not a parent, there’s no reason to be one before realizing the immensity of God’s love, and sensing His point of view. That was my mistake, and I’m sharing it so you can learn from it. Part of seeing the world more from His perspective is to look at our problems and try to hear God’s voice tell us how He’d solve them, parents or not. Seeing things from His perspective helps us realize truths of all of life’s more puzzling issues: what’s a big deal and what’s not, what’s right and wrong, what’s worth pursuing and what needs to be left alone, etc.
Why do we get these benefits/lessons when we have children? It could just be a random coincidence, but I feel that having children is one of God’s examples to us of how the world works. He’s showing us but a teeny-tiny fraction of what it’s like to be Him. Not to undermine the immense importance of our jobs, but if the world were nothing but animals, it’s like we’re given the simple task of just feeding one tiny ant farm, whereas God takes care of every last detail of every last creature alive, from the cellular waste elimination to the geographical placement of everything from the wasp to the elephant, the newly hatched duckling to the vast moose herds. We have to feed our ants if we want them to be healthy and grow, because if we pay only minimal attention to our farms, they may perish. And remember, we’re only supposed to feed our little farm, not provide every life sustaining detail in everyones’ lives like God does. His work is much greater, impossible for us to grasp.
Our “ant farm” is God trying to clue us in as to how the whole life thing goes, just as we’d acquire a family pet to teach our own children about responsibility. When we have kids, we automatically love them unconditionally and want to set the best example possible, and that’s God teaching us how He feels about us. We also naturally want the best for them and hope they are grateful for all we do for them, just as God wants for us. These are but a few of the basics. We, as humans, though, are sure to make mistakes along the way, especially when we aren’t intentional, but if you remember how forgiving your God is, it’ll be easier to keep trying to figure this parenting thing out! You’re given this immense responsibility for a reason, and God’s also given you the strength and skills to be the parent (and person) He’s called you to be!
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
And remember to thank God for your life today and every day!