“I love you,” my 7 year old daughter cooed…….
……..as an invisible fist punched my soul.
I don’t consider myself a jealous person – but it’s what struck me in that moment.
My daughter’s affectionate words were not meant for me. Or her dad. They weren’t for a sibling (wouldn’t that be great though??). Not for a cousin or a grandparent or aunt or uncle.
She gave her love to someone else.
For a split second I felt betrayed. I am her mother after all; how dare she love someone else outside of the family? It’s not natural! – is it? A child’s greatest affection is supposed to be for her parents and family, right?
And after the feelings of betrayal, insecurity took over: what if she stops loving me? Am I a bad mom?
Yet in my spirit I knew these feelings and questions were not right, were not of Truth. They were rooted in fear, selfishness and pride.
Yes, pride. Because if I want my kids to love me more than anyone else, I am setting myself up as God in their lives; making myself an idol for them to worship, fear, obey.
Often when I think of love, I think of it as something that brings people together; as a unifying force. But if that is the extent of our understanding of love, then we miss the mark – we misunderstand the depths of love.
I’m coming to understand that a unifying love is first a dividing love. A pure and holy love, in its very nature, must first separate itself from any impure and unholy loves of this world.
Psalm 97:10 – Hate evil, you who love the Lord….
I John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Jesus makes it even more personal. Painfully personal.
Matthew 10:37-39 – He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
It’s hard enough for me to follow Christ this fervently; can I bear to allow my children to follow Him in this manner too? To tell them to think of me as nothing so that they will sanctify Him as everything in their hearts?
I hope my children will obey Christ’s greatest commandment to love God and love others. I even pray it over them. But have I really meant it all this time?
Meaning it requires me to relinquish my claim on their love.
If I really want them to experience Supernatural love, I have to be prepared to offer up the natural love of mother and child on the altar of my heart.
One day, I fervently hope and pray that each of my children will declare with their mouths and by their lives that they love Christ more than all else – even me.
Maybe that ‘one day’ is beginning now. What if the whole point of parenting is to guide our children away from us and toward their Heavenly Father? They are born attached to us; naturally. But from the moment of detachment from the womb, maybe our number one purpose is to reflect the love of God so vividly that it propels them toward a perfectly pure and holy re-Birth and attachment; supernaturally.
And maybe, beyond the logic and reason and rationale of earthly genius, this division leads to a greater unity because of our unified love in and for the triune God.
When I point my children in the direction of the Savior and urge them to depart from me, we will actually journey together toward a deeper unity.
No longer will it only be a unity based on biology, but instead a unity based on eternity!
The natural for the supernatural.
It’s the way God has always seemed to deal with His people, Old Testament and New. He called out the nation of Israel, separated them from the rest of the nations, loved them uniquely, and unified Himself to them in that love. Through that unity, His people were a beacon for the nations to join in that same relationship.
He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light – together with Him and His people. We are a Holy, Royal, and Chosen people belonging together to Him. Through this unity, we are messengers of His excellencies to the nations – proclaiming that all may enter this beautiful relationship
Natural affection is clingy, jealous, and limiting of the beloved. It’s the invisible fist that assaulted my soul at my daughter’s declaration of love for someone else.
Supernatural love divides for the sake of greater unity. It’s what prompts me to declare, “Yes! Daughter! Love others! Love Your Creator! Our supernatural unity as sisters in Christ far outshines our biological bond as mother and daughter!”
Matthew 12:46-50 – While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”