In late September or early October my son, Rob, and his wife, Bea, will enter a dimension of love that is the closest manifestation of God's love that a human can have for another human--they are expecting their first child.
Many kinds of love ebb and flow in our lives, but when a child comes it is amazing. It's like there's not enough room in our bodies to contain the love we have for that infant. We begin to understand God's agapao love-His unconditional love.
Unlike the other loves we've experienced that depended appearance, behavior, attitudes, and desires, this love requires nothing. It is pure, bottomless, and passionate. Inside the most phlegmatic, passive, person is a Kodiak Grizzly Bear with fangs and claws that rises on its hind legs when someone hurts his or her child.
Think about it. When a baby is born it looks like a little old man. The first thing it does is cry. A baby nurses and then spits all over you, poops in a diaper that leaks on you, keeps you up all night, and sleeps all day while you try to get through your day in a sleep deprived fog. A newborn is noisy, demanding, messy, and to anyone other that its parents, not much to look at.
But still, we love our baby so much it hurts. We would give our life for our child. Why? Because that baby is ours. But we are imperfect.
God loves us even though we may not be much to look at, when we are noisy, demanding, and messy. Why? Because we are His. Jesus did die for us and it truly hurt. He made us perfect.
However, not only do we enter a new dimension of love when a child enters our lives, we also discover a new threshold of pain. My children are grown, but I will always and forever be a parent. What touches them touches me. What hurts them hurts me. Even when they are not aware of the danger of their choices, I am excruciatingly aware. As the psalmist writes, there are times when tears are my food.
The phone call that informs that a child has been in an accident, or the one that a child has been caught with drugs. The parent - teacher meeting informing that a child is failing. Having a doctor say that a child has a 50/50 chance for survival, or no chance at all. A child that goes missing or runs away. Hearing the words, "I hate you," from a child that you've given up your interests and time in preference to that child's needs and wants. Watching a child reject all your values. These are the things that make our souls bleed.
Can anything good come from this pain? Yes. The pain of loving pushes us into the revelation of God's power. Why did I write, pushes? Because most of us will not enter this revelation any other way. There are too many distractions in life. And it is too easy to counterfeit God's power by emotions. Raw pain causes us to fall on our faces humbly and honestly.
God loves our children more than we do. That is hard to wrap our minds around, because we love them so much. He wants what we want for our children - His best.
True love is unconditional, painful, and requires faith. I wouldn't have it any other way.