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Of Course I Love my Children

by Crystal Lutton

I don't know of a mom who will say she doesn't love her children. It's so basic and even women who don't know what love is supposed to feel or look like say they love their children.

Amazing things are done in the name of love by mothers--they lift cars off their children, they give up the identity that our culture says they should have in order to be there whenever her child needs them, they sacrifice sleep and personal comfort. Mothers who put their baby up for adoption do so because they love them so much that they want a better life for them than they believe they can give. Even many women who opt for abortion do so wrongly believing that they are doing the best thing for the baby they love. Love is a powerful motivator.

Love is sadly misunderstood in our culture. Because God is Love it's important that believers check our understanding of Love and make sure that our choices and actions reflect real Love, God Love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV®) describes this type of love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Is this what we mean when we say we love our children? Sadly, many parenting experts want us to demand love from our children. But this says that if we really love our children we will do these things for and to them.

We will be patient--oh that's a hard one we don't want to hear. What a challenge. Children can be so slow and they don't always learn things the first time and they test us. Kind? I have to be kind? Oh. Most of us would say we don't envy our children-but is that true? They are so young and free. They can play without experiencing the burden of debts and spousal tension. Sometimes, if we're honest, we'd trade places with them.

Usually we don't boast to them, but do we boast about them? Do we do this in front of them and put pressure on them and their behavior? Do we find our identity in the behavior or appearance of our children? That might go with not being prideful as well. Hmmmm.

Love is not rude. How do we speak to our children? Do we snap at them? Is it because sometimes we are self-seeking? Maybe our stress seeps into how we treat them and talk to them. Maybe we wish they would just go away for 20 minutes and let us rest. And how easily angered are we? Do we snap at the 5th time? The 10th time? Or the 70 times 70th time? Are we even supposed to know because to do so would be to keep a record of wrongs. How many times have I told you . . . ?

Well we certainly don't delight in evil, but how often do we rejoice in the truth? Do we really rejoice with and over our children? What about when they do less than we expected but it's really all they could do? Of course we always protect, at least the best we can, but trust? Do we always assign a positive intent and trust that they aren't out to get or manipulate us? Even after that same behavior occurs again and again, do we hope? And do we never, ever, fail our children?

We are our children's first exposure to the heart of God. Our children will understand God to the extent that we've modeled who He is for them.

Of course we love our children. But I know if we're all honest we can do some work in what that really looks like. Do not be discouraged, though! We're all in this together. We all have work to do and none of us is perfect.

Find at least one other mother you trust and then share your heart, share your burden, and strive on towards truly reflecting God's love to your children. That is what the journey of motherhood is about. Not only will your children be blessed but you will rejoice when your children rise up and call you blessed.

Crystal is the mama of three children. She is author of Biblical Parenting. Visit her website at http://www.aolff.org.

Copyright 2003
Article first published in the December 2002 issue of Gentle Mothering


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