Loving Your Child Enough

Loving Your Child Enough / satisfactionthroughchrist.com

One of my priorities as I write is to always be truthful. Sometimes the truth is beautiful and charming and inspiring. But other times it’s messy and ugly and…somehow still inspiring when we allow God to wrench it from our grasping fingers and use it the way He wants to.

Here’s fair warning that there’s some truth of the messy variety ahead.

One recent afternoon, my heart sank and my stomach contorted into knots as I surveyed the ugly purplish-red mark on my bawling daughter’s arm. I noticed with chagrin the set of tiny teeth marks confirming the perpetrator’s identity.

It’s moments like these when anger overcomes affection and I realize my love for my foster sons is SOO…NOT…enough.

It’s not strong enough.

It’s not consistent enough.

It’s not unconditional enough.

It’s weak. And faulty. And flawed.

It’s these moments that make me want to laugh (politely, of course) in the faces of those people who address me admiringly for being a foster parent. And those other people who wistfully confide that they wish they could do it, but they don’t think they ever will.

As if I’m different from them. Better somehow.

Well, let’s dispense with that idea.

God didn’t equip me from birth to do this thing He asked me to do. He didn’t give me a stomach that isn’t repulsed by other kids’ vomit or a nose that doesn’t smell the messiest of soiled underwear. And He sure as heck didn’t give me a love that’s overflowing enough to cover all their mistakes but at the same time flimsy enough to painlessly wave goodbye when they’re reunited with their parents.

No. My nature is completely, thoroughly, unreservedly ill-equipped for this.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m realizing that it’s no different with my biological children…

Oh no, carrying a child in my womb for forty weeks didn’t equip me for the selflessness required of mothers. The C-sections I endured didn’t miraculously birth patience in me, and the years of breastfeeding didn’t nourish my stores of wisdom.

I’m ill-equipped.

The days get long. The sink gets full. The kids get dirty. The tummies get hungry. The nights get brief. The playing gets loud. The arguing gets old. The rooms get messy. The clothes get stained. The mouths get sassy.

But in spite of all this (and maybe even because of it), I can see clearly that the problem isn’t with any of the kids.

They’re just being kids. Doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. They’re awaiting my diligent training and faithful instruction. They’ll do better when they know better, but for now, this is where they are.

The problem is…me.

Because even though I’m a daughter of the Most High God, bought with a price, dearly loved, pursued by Him and special to Him…I’m still me.

Weak. Faulty. And flawed.

So how can my love be anything else?

The only way I can love foster children or biological children or church children or anyone else under the sun is by letting God’s love flow through me.

That sounds delightful, doesn’t it? But what does it mean? Because if it’s just pretty fluff and not something I can count as true today and live out in my life tomorrow, then what’s the point?

Here’s what I’m learning:

For God’s love to flow through me, all I have to do is stay connected to the Source.

Loving Your Child Enough / http://satisfactionthroughchrist.com

That’s it. When I’m connected to the Source, the rest takes care of itself.

Jesus said it like this:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Does the branch have to work to bear fruit? No. Does it have to strive and strain? Of course not. Bearing fruit will happen naturally as long as the branch is connected to the vine.

What if the branch breaks away from the vine? Well, in that case, all the striving and straining in the world won’t bring forth fruit.

And in much the same way, [Tweet “God’s love can channel through me when I’m closely connected to Him.”]

So when my temper is growing short and my patience is wearing thin, it’s a sure sign that I’m disconnected from the One who called me to love in the first place.

He called me. And He will equip me. Not in an all-at-once-here’s-all-you’ll-ever-need kind of way. It’s really more like a here’s-today’s-portion-and-you-have-to-come-back-for-more-tomorrow kind of way.

And I sort of think one reason He does this is to make sure I’ll come back tomorrow. (He likes me that much.)

But that’s a post for another day.

Jennifer Optimized Signature

 

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Loving child of Almighty God, adoring wife, and homeschooling mother of three, I am active in teaching and music ministries in my local church. I am passionate about encountering my Savior and about encouraging other women to do the same. It would be an honor to have you visit me at A Divine Encounter!

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh my! You have so much and it is not just for parents, foster parents, or church family parenting. It is for the likes of me who have no children but who love people anyway, who wants to love unconditionally children and adults that are in my world. I tutor children so for that hour with one child, I am that parent who needs to be connected to God. For that hour, I need to know that the love I give to these children can make a difference in their day. For that hour, my connection can guide me to discipline appropriately. And my connection can guide my relationship with my husband. Jennifer, I am so grateful that you are my neighbor @ Lyli’s today. I have been blessed. ~ linda

    • says

      Hi, Linda! What a blessing you must be to those dear children you’re tutoring! And what a wonderful way to minister and show the love of God. You’re so correct to point out our desperate need for unconditional love in all of our relationships. Thank you so much for reading, and for taking the time to share your application of truth with us all!

  2. says

    What a powerful testimony of the ultimate truth! So uplifting! Thank you for sharing. I’m grateful I found your post through the Freedom Fridays link party.

  3. says

    What a great reminder that parenting is messy and on so many days not perfect. I was thinking and praying through similar thoughts this morning and realizing that when I stop striving to be “perfect” and rather rest in Jesus, it is only then that I can love people in my life intentionally.

    • says

      I agree, Hannah! I’m so thankful for a perfect God who makes beauty from our messes as we stay connected to Him. Thank you for sharing how God is working in your heart!

    • says

      Thank you for reading, and for identifying with my struggles. 🙂 Our openness with one another in the trenches can be a powerful aid as we labor together for the Lord!

    • says

      Thank you for reading, Rach, and for sharing so transparently from your own experience! May God continue to turn our hearts toward Him, trusting Him to supply all that we need.

  4. says

    Hi Jennifer 🙂 thankyou for this post, it has really encouraged me and challenged me to walk closer to God! Thanks for linking up at Wake Me Up Wednesday

  5. says

    Great job! Thank you for allowing God to speak through you. It is so true that in ourselves we can only love imperfectly, it is God’s love flowing through us that makes an impact to those around us. I am excited that your platform is increasing, and God’s truths are being shared and heard.

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