I used to be a dog person. When Jamey and I lived in Germany we got a chow-chow. We named her Shatzi. (Our own spin on the german word “schatz” or “schatzi” which means “treasure” or a term of endearment like “darling”.) Not only was she a completely adorable puppy, as she grew she was a great watch-dog. Jamey would be on deployments and I would be home alone for weeks at a time–except I wasn’t alone. Shatzi was with me. It was very comforting to me to have her around. We went on walks together. I could cuddle with her if I was feeling lonely. (Although, I had to get down on the floor to do that. There was a rule that she was not allowed to be on any of the furniture. I tried to get her to break it when Jamey was gone, but it was of no use. If I put her on the bed or couch, she would lay there completely tense. She was uncomfortable and guilt-ridden over breaking the rules, even though I tried to assure her that Jamey would never know! So, I soon relented and let her off so she could not have her conscience defiled.) I especially liked the feeling of protection she gave me during the nights. The unconditional love of a dog can be a pretty amazing thing. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, how bad your day has been, the state of your life–with very minimal effort on your part, a dog will love you forever. That can be almost magical.
I have found, however, something even better. The love of a child. The love of a child is unconditional too. But, it demands much more of you. Their purity, the genuineness of their love, the possibilities of the future–all of this mix together in such a way, that in the best of circumstances, it transforms you. When you look into the eyes of your child, you tend to see yourself. Something about their purity, restores yours. When you see the endless possibilities stretched out before a brand new life, your own life is reflected in them. What kind of life will they lead? Many of the most important answers of that question are determined in who you are. The great thing about a child’s unconditional love is the desire that it brings to be worthy of that love.
And there is good news. This isn’t hard work. Being transformed by the love of a child is easy. It isn’t about making a list of who you have to be. It isn’t about striving to do these things or stop doing those things. Instead, it is about being lost in love. It is about letting your actions flow from love, naturally.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things about parenthood that are demanding–exhausting, even. However, it isn’t overwhelming…unless. Unless you stop working from love. You see, when you work from love, then effort becomes a privilege. Having the opportunity to be such an important part of the life of such an amazing, miraculous person is among the highest honor that you can dream of. You wouldn’t trade it for anything. It isn’t a chore to grumble about, but rather a journey to be cherished!
Let me try to explain. When my son was very young, one day I saw a clear image of him as a young man. The picture may have only existed in my heart, but it was clear as day. I can still vividly see it. He is probably about seventeen years old. I can see the royal blue color of his pants, the purity in his eyes, the kindness in the half-smile on his face. I could sense the confident swagger with which he carried himself. I know that the Lord gave me this picture as a treasure. (And, while I have been “unpacking” the gift of this image for years, I know there is yet more for me to discover about it.) Even as I write this, picturing this image almost overwhelms me with emotion. This image carries so much weight in my heart. Why? Because it has given me a glimpse of the great value of my son. He isn’t just a little–or, not so little, now–boy. He is a boy with the seeds of amazing, endless possibilities inside of him. He is a man with a great call of destiny on his life, he just isn’t quite there yet. And it is my job to help him get there!
You see, my son’s greatest destiny does not lie in me being his mom. So, when I look at him, I can’t afford to see him only in terms of my life. I have to see beyond that. And, when I manage to get even a glimpse of that, my heart is flooded with such protective, fierce love. It is filled with awe that I got chosen to train, equip and love him. Suddenly, the effort of being his mother takes….well, less effort. My love for him overwhelms me in such a way that it colors every part of my life with him. And, suddenly, I am changed. Because that is what real love does.
So, today, don’t get stuck in the effort of parenting. Take a moment–even if it means something else must wait–and spend a moment (or two or three) recapturing your love for your child. Spend time with them in a way that maximizes their awesomeness. Laugh with them. Appreciate their beauty. Take a moment to be fascinated by the things that fascinate them. Fall in love with them. When you do this, you will find that the “chore” of being their parent is lighter, more hopeful and filled with joy. Do this each day, and soon, you will find your life, your child[ren] and your home forever changed by love.
Read more at www.joyfilledhome.org