Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Love Other People's Kids -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Eleven)

This is Part Eleven of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

11. Love other people's kids -- I've always loved kids. When I was five, I wanted to have one hundred children when I grew up. I'd imagine all the beds I would need. I enjoyed babysitting growing up. After a long stint of wanting to be a veterinarian, I changed my plans when I was fifteen and decided that I wanted to work with children with special needs and challenges instead. And for as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a wife and a mom.

The concept of childhood amazes me. These foundational years of personhood, as these little people are developing and exploring and experiencing life, have so much impact on the rest of their lives. For good or for bad. All children should have a safe place to grow and be loved and nurtured.

And then God blessed me with a husband and children of my own. And I am so, so thankful for this role in life. But I noticed soon after having Eliana that my focus had quite quickly gone from loving children in general to loving my child and the idea of my children more specifically. As I prayed for her and thought about her future, I prayed that she would grow up living in a community of people who loved her, and that she would be safe and secure in that community. I never wanted her to feel any lack of love and go searching for it in dangerous places. I prayed that she would know how much her family and church family loved her, and that she would see the fullness of God's love for her reflected in such love.

And I realized that I wanted to be a part of that community -- that community that loves children and gives them a safe place to see and know the love of God. But as I mentioned before, my heart and affections for children had already started to focus more specifically on my own children, and I noticed that my affection for other people's children was waning.

So I prayed that God would grow my heart's love and affection for other people's kids. That the children around me would know how much they were loved and wouldn't go searching for love where it is falsified and abused for self-satisfying destruction.

I've struggled with how to write this post, and whether or not I should confess to my own waning affections, because I don't want people to think that I have an agenda when I am kind to their children -- that I just want their children to have the illusion of being cared for, and that my actions are in any way disingenuous. There is such a joy in knowing that others truly love and care about the well-being of your children. I am so thankful for all the people who love my kids and express that love in so many ways. This is a great gift to my soul. And I want my friends to know that I do truly love and care about their children. They are in my heart and in my prayers and I am amazed by how precious and how beautiful and how amazing they each are. They are blessings not only to their biological families, but also to me.

But I share this post with you because I want you to know that I do truly love and care for other people's children because God was so kind, so generous to change my heart and answer my prayers. He's given me a heart to not only care for the future of my children, but for the future of other children. He's given me a desire to want to get to know these little people in my community and to pray for their future and to, well, just love them. I enjoy watching them grow into their personalities and seeing how precious each of them are. And I love praying for them and seeing how God works in their families.

And I share this to encourage you -- whoever this might be relevant to -- to pray that God will not only be building a community around you that genuinely loves and cares for your children, but that He would help you to be a part of such a community that blesses other parents by genuinely loving and caring for their children. I still can be pretty "my family" focused at times, but I am thankful to see God's work in my heart in this area, and I am confident that it is His desire to do this work in many hearts. So please, if any of this resonates with you, pray for God to build communities like this. That we would love others the way He has loved us.


This series has one more post before it's conclusion, so come back tomorrow for the grand finale!! ;)

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Wow. Mind. Blown. Here I thought all this time you just naturally thought all children were "adorable." :-) But, seriously, this is an awesome point. We tend to have a disproportional love for our own DNA. Of course we have greater responsibilities to those in our care, but our affections should be drawn to God's glory through His blood-bought people.