When I was seventeen, I got my first real job as a nanny which has led to nearly ten years of work in childcare. I’ve spent years cooking meals, entertaining, catching falling toddlers, and kissing better the scrapes of adventurous older kids. Such a line of work allows for a fair amount of study on the relationships that exist between caretaker and child.
I’ve often heard parents say that having their children gave them a whole new understanding of love. And it’s true. I don’t have children of my own, but in my own small ways, I’ve been able to see it. You know, even in just a childcare capacity, that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for the child in your care. It’s a responsibility yes, but much more than that it’s a sense of love that propels the fact. And it’s completely irrational in a world that tells you to pursue love from a sense of reciprocity. Why?
Because there’s nothing a child can do for you.
Not a thing. They are truly helpless and we love them anyway. Take particularly young children. A baby or toddler can’t depend on you for feeding and care and then turn around and clean the kitchen for you and take out the trash. You don’t stop a toddler from falling and hitting their head just for them to do the same for you. The dependence is completely one-sided. And yet the parent loves them anyway.
I say all this because there is absolutely no less love from God to us than there is from a parent to a child. We hear it said all the time, but let it truly sink in. This isn’t a flippant phraseology. This is truth embedded in everything you experience when caring for a child. God doesn’t call himself our Father just because he likes the sound of it or he wants to be poetic. He calls himself that because that’s exactly what he is. God takes on the incredible challenges of parenting on a scale we cannot even fathom.
Child-rearing is not easy. It’s all-consuming and it's absolutely dripping with self-sacrificial effort. You will worry about that child and do everything in your power to shield them from your own worries and fears. You will work to protect them and will stand between them and anything trying to harm them. You will physically hurt yourself lunging to save them from a fall or some other peril. You will hold them when they cry and feel them shove you away. You will be screamed at and receive every kind of temper tantrum. And even as that happens and you feel consumed by frustration and exhaustion the love you feel for that child does not change. It is still there and it’s just as steady as ever.
So when I say God loves you as a child, I mean it in the full spectrum. He is here for all of it. He is here for your temper tantrums, your stumbles, your helpless attempts, your exhausted tears, your failed attempts, your imperfections, your spectacular falls, your wounds and bruises, and all the other things you think make you hard to love.
What’s more, it’s not in the chore category for God. He’s a father and he doesn’t wish he didn’t have you, no matter how little you can care for yourself. It’s not just a tolerated part of him caring for you. He delights in loving you.
You are not an inconvenience to God.
You’re not. You never will be. God’s voice was not grumbling when he sent Jesus and he’s not grumbling at you now. The purpose of sending his son was one of rescue, not jaded, angry “now I have to get you out of this mess” grumpiness. His heart towards you is not an angry inconvenienced one. Yes, there is correction and discipline, but no loving parent ever does that just to take out their frustration on their child. Even that is an act of love as it is an extension of their protection.
You have to remember that you are wanted.
God’s heart to you is one of love for you. Not love of your utility. Not love of your ability. Not love of all your work. There’s nothing you can offer God that he can’t do a thousand times better himself. We are arguably completely incompetent in the grand scheme of things and we are still loved. As dependent as we are on God, we are that much more loved. Remember that.
So stumble around in your dependence, doing your best, but understanding that you are loved no matter what. You have never left the care of a loving Father and you never will. After all, a parent is always a parent. Circumstances do not change that love. Why should you be loved any differently? You are a child of God, all security and care included.
Let’s find some joy,