As I walk through this journey of motherhood, I'm learning so much more about just how much God loves me and I'm finding myself challenged to "grow up" in my spiritual walk with Him. I have a precious, precious child that I love more than I ever knew my heart was capable of loving. But as we head at full speed into the next stage of toddler-hood, the one where "Haleigh Do It" is our favorite phrase, I'm finding that, though that love is never questioned in the least bit, my ability to respond in loving ways is sometimes put to the test. As I examine my reactions to her, it makes me stop and think about how God responds to us, His children. And I have to wonder, in my grown up life when God asks something of me, do I respond like a "grownup" or do I pitch a fit and scream "NO!" Does that "terrible twos" child inside each of us ever really go away?
Love is patient, love is kind. There's a reason why 1 Corinthians 13:4 starts out describing love with these attributes. If we can master being patient and kind in our responses to anyone, then the rest of the attributes fall into place pretty easily. But they're not always as easy as we would like - especially when my normally sweet, happy child has decided to lie down in the middle of an aisle in Target and scream because I told her she absolutely could not stand up in the top part of the buggy. Yes, I know this is a very normal stage of life and that it is a good sign that she is developing properly. Her budding personality is sometimes too big to fit into her pint sized body and her growing independence, opinions and confidence can lead to some out-of-the-blue meltdowns. Though I am absolutely blessed to have a little girl who is usually so happy, obedient and playful, there are those days that it feels like a full time job to just stay calm and centered so she knows what to come back to as her emotions bounce between the extremes. I have to remind myself that she is experiencing all kinds of new emotions and they can be overwhelming. It doesn't help her learn how to handle them if I over-react in my own emotional and selfish response to her, no matter how frustrating the moment may be! What does help her is for me to always show her that I love her, treating her with patience and kindness, in spite of the frustrating emotion. I realize as I cautiously manage and gauge my reactions to her outbursts, that there is a bit of the grownup version of that "terrible twos" child still hidden within me - one that wants to scream "no" back or gets frustrated just because she didn't immediately do things my way. So I'm working hard on always responding with love (which sometimes is tough love, but should still be patient and kind) and I'm learning to pick the battles worth fighting to keep her safe and healthy, establishing appropriate boundaries for her, while also giving her room for her independence and confidence to continue to grow.
I have to stop and think of all the times that I have thrown a fit because God directed me to do something that would change the course of my comfortable, familiar life or require a sacrifice. How does He respond when we act like children? Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is unconditional. God is Love. This is teaching me a lot about how my Heavenly Father loves me, unconditionally, with patience and kindness, when He asks something of me or tells me "no" because He knows best. It's a chance for me to grow as a mother, to grow as a disciple of Christ, and to show my sweet, little girl what unconditional love looks like. I realize that a bit of the "terrible twos" child never really disappears from within us... we all have our moments when we feel like screaming or throwing a fit, but just like I will always love my baby, I know that my Heavenly Father will always love me and will be patient with me as I grow up a little bit more.