Updated: Nov 8, 2021
I was at Costco recently, my monthly pilgrimage to stock up on coffee, bread, coffee, roasted chicken, and coffee. They had a really nice, Costco-quality Spiderman Halloween costume I thought my son Isaac would love, complete with rippling pecs. I texted a picture of it to his dad, who was picking him up from school at that very moment, asking him to ask Isaac if he liked it. I then wandered around Costco for 20 minutes killing time until I heard back. Mostly, I wandered while inventing ways to bless my kids. They are always on my mind, my kids. Likewise, we are always on God's mind. I believe especially so now, as the world churns and burns.
Loving (Mildly Obsessive) Care
My older son Pierce started high school this year. Thanks to abundant prayer and generous scholarships, he's going to a respected Christian school up the street, known for its academics, strong Biblical stance, and outstanding, nationally ranked athletics. It took some doing to get him in and God graciously parted the waters with mom's diligence. I so very much want the best for Pierce. I want him to have every opportunity to fully develop his gifts in a positive, sheltered, but stimulating environment that fosters maximum growth. I believe God does, too.
The school has some stringent requirements, including a dress code that prescribes khakis in four specific colors and of a very particular length. To meet the standard, I've ordered and returned 17 pairs of shorts, which is a PITA, but I was so very happy to do it. I find I have endless reserves of patience meeting my kids' needs. God does, too.
Now more image-conscious, Pierce also recently expressed an interest in jewelry. To mark the start of high school, I gave him my beloved uncle's beautiful Italian gold cross and have gone to extraordinary lengths shopping for the perfect chain, according to Pierce's (irritatingly) teen-specific specifications. Not too gangster, nor dainty. I've also started making him friendship bracelets in his school colors, along with a few in his tropical fisherman palette. I really, really care about both what he needs and what he wants. God does, too.
Last night, I picked Pierce up from basketball practice but he wanted to go to the JV football game for an hour. I dropped him off and headed home. As I crossed the threshold, he texted me to return because the opposing team forfeited. I fetched him and a buddy I didn't know. I asked the Buddy questions because I want to know and understand Pierce's friends and their influence in his life. God does, too.
I'm pretty sure Pierce will continue to play baseball at this school, which to me is the athletic equivalent of Chinese water torture. I will spend hours doing it, cheering myself hoarse over and over again because he's good at it and loves it and I care about all that. God does, too.
Isaac's education has been a bit more challenging. We moved to Florida partly to ensure he'd have the support and community for his unique needs. We did this because we love him and want him to be all he can be. God does, too.
To that end, I did extensive research about the best schools, programs and communities, moving him from school to school as his needs changed, at one point driving thirty minutes to a private Christian special needs school that seemed best at the time. I am continuously thinking and praying about what's optimal for both my kids--academically, vocationally, socially, anticipating and planning the path that will foster their unique gifts. I think God does this, too.
Isaac's not into jewelry yet, but loves dolls and stuffed animals of a particular type. Even though he has 734 toys, if I see one he'd like, I get it, envisioning his delight to receive it. I believe God does this, too.
Isaac is passionate about music and just loves to sing and dance. When Isaac takes a hankering to a particular song, he will play it 42,783 times in quick succession. While we do share similar tastes in music, there's very little I enjoy in that quantity, but I can put up it, and rejoice at Isaac's babbling sing-a-long. God does, too.
While Isaac is 98.76% giant, juicy gift, we have faced some rather intense challenges including eight years of potty-training and now, sometimes intractable obstinacy that pushes timetables and tempers to the brink. Isaac also has a few potentially mildly embarrassing habits that might make some fussy folks uneasy. However, I'm unfazed by his oddities and find them rather endearing. God does, too.
Somehow, I'm supernaturally equipped to handle all this, mostly with unusual ease, energy, and joy. My kids, and their wants and needs, are always on my mind.
We are always on God's mind, too.
Many Bible verses speak to our being the apple of God's eye, that He thinks of us, knows us, and longs to bless us.
5 Insights About God & Parenthood
I'd really love to take credit for my willingness and ability to do all this, trolling for mommy of the year award, but there's a lot of us on the planet who would eat fire ants for our kids. Besides, I know for a fact that I'm unbelievably self-centered and my ability to love my kids consistently in spirit and action is beyond me, left on my own. And that's really my point or five.
Good and bad, our understanding and experience of parenthood--being a parent, having parents--informs our view of God.
This view profoundly affects how we experience life. We can reframe our understanding and experience accordingly.
Unlike us or our human parents, God is the perfect parent.
God loves us, wants the best for us, and has the power and desire to bless us more than we can imagine.
We can tap into that supernatural love and power for our everyday lives-- including parenting and everything else.
God as Loving Parent
Most of us are familiar with God describing Himself as Father a lot in Scripture, perhaps most memorably in The Lords Prayer. For me, this is cherished imagery, as my merely human dad and dad figures have been the source of great pain for me, even after understanding their pain. I really, really like the idea of a perfect Dad. Now. Now that I've gotten to know the once exacting punitive taskmaster as the loving and benevolent heavenly Father He really is. Much more accessible and safe!
However, for some, this father imagery is still intensely uncomfortable, so it may help to connect with the very same God, who indeed, also describes Himself as a mom. Jesus Himself exemplified some very tender, more typically feminine traits. Starting in Genesis when God created both man and woman in His image revealing Himself, here are a few other times in the Bible when God shows His softer side:
Really, Jesus Himself exemplified some very maternal traits.
Mommy or Daddy, the imagery is crystal clear, especially to those of us who are parents: God is a loving parent.
Subject to destructive, sledge-hammer self-criticism, I had to reacquaint myself with this nice God. Mind you, He is unchanging. It's my understanding that has changed.
There's a lot we can say about what makes for a great mom or dad. Opinions may vary, but there's plenty of common ground. Here's my quick take:
Provides for me
Wants the best for me
Fun & funny
Make your own list. There are many Bible verses to support every one of these traits. (Use your concordance to look them up or just Google them.)
It took having kids, and a very long time besides, for me to see that my own imperfect experience of parents and parenting were the faintest insight into God's passion for us. Faint but profoundly instructive. An unattainable parenting standard.
What About Mean God?
What do we do then with the undeniably punitive Old Testament Father-God who metes out law and consequences? Well, on the one hand, if we see His laws as buzz-killing killjoys, we'll resist, resent or dismiss them--or worse Him--and go our own way. But if we realize they are loving guardrails of a wise and caring Daddy, rules and consequences both that promote our wellbeing and that of others, we'll comply. And if we struggle, fail, and suffer or harm as a result, we can say we're sorry and ask for help.
This works for entire nations, too, by the way.
We can breathe a sigh of relief and more readily appreciate the guardrails and the discipline knowing that God demonstrated His love by paying the ultimate penalty for our failings with His own Son.
I use to struggle with this concept. Couldn't the God of the Universe come up with some other way? After accepting by faith what I couldn't understand, the powerful symbolism became real to me when I had kids of my own. Sacrifice them for anyone or anything? No way!
All this and more because we are always on His mind and have been before the beginning of time.
Let that tell us how very much He loves us. Ideally, I think this helps us to comply out of love, with gratitude, rather than fear.
If you happen to be blessed with really fine human parents, rejoice and be grateful.
If you are a nearly perfect parent, yay you!
If not, take heart! This God, who reveals His nature in the fullness of Scripture including the flesh-and-blood Jesus, is really the only Mom and Dad any of us will ever need. He stands in the gap of our imperfect parenting and our imperfect parents.
Hallelujah and Amen.
That's very Good News indeed.
Remember: God loves you no matter what.
Grace, peace, joy & love,