I always anticipated my understanding of God's love would change (or maybe expand?) once I had kids. People are always saying things like "I didn't understand how much God loves me until I had a baby." And I do think that is true in a way. How I love Lincoln and Sophie is different than any other love I have experienced. I know I will love them no matter what their life choices end up being. But what I didn't anticipate when having children, is that I would learn more about God's love through the way my children love me, rather than how I love them.
So let me tell you what my children are teaching me about God.
My little boy is super tender. He is feisty and stubborn and a little bit crazy, but he is mostly just gentle-hearted. But on a particularly hard day, during a particularly hard week, I went to sleep with the weight of the world on my shoulders and woke up gloomy and dark. Danny left for school and I tried to get our usual routine going, except my tender little boy was not having it.
No matter what I did the boy cried. Or whined. Or yelled. Or hit his sister. Or threw all the books off the shelf. Or dropped all his food on the floor.
While I was cleaning up the kitchen floor covered in pasta bits, moist cheerios, and discarded lima beans, I heard a crash in the living room. The tender boy had climbed up on the couch, crawled his way over to the end table, crossed the arm of the couch and reached his little fingers far enough to knock my lamp over. The lamp that has been my only grown-up accessory I have refused to move from the living room (kind of as a statement of control).
And I lost it. I just lost it.
I grabbed him by the arms and sat him on the floor and yelled "STOP!".
My sweet, tender-hearted little boy paused. He went silent for a moment as he looked up at me and then the big tears started to pour down his cheeks as he cried. And then. And then what did he do?
He reached for me.
He reached for me to comfort him, for me to make him feel better, for me to make him feel loved. Even though it was me that scared him in the first place. And so I sat on the floor crying with my little boy, completely humbled by the love this tiny, little person has for me.
My sweet boy cheered up and went on his way playing with his toys and left me on the hardwood floor thinking about God and my children. And about how they both see me the same way. They love me the same way. Unconditionally.
They don't care how greasy my hair is or how dirty my floors are. And even when I fall short and even when I blame my struggles on them, they reach for me and love me anyway. And even on particularly bad days, in the midst of particularly bad weeks, they forgive me. Because even when I make mistakes and even when I'm undeserving, I am theirs. I belong to God and my children.
How grateful I am.
(This message from the General Women's Meeting last Saturday shares the same message I felt that day with Lincoln. Except President Uchtdorf is a bit more eloquent. I've been watching it on repeat.)