On a recent flight, I sat next to a very interesting 45-year-old man from California. We chit-chatted for the first few minutes and eventually asked about each other’s family. His eyes widened as I mentioned I have six adult children and ten grandchildren. He responded with ... “My wife and I just don’t know that we want children.” I replied, “All I can say, is having children has been the best decision we ever made. And ... I won’t even get started on the grandchildren.” He smiled politely and then switched the subject to his passion for sports. Reflecting, I wish I would have expressed my deeper thoughts: “Children are a gift from God. Having children expands our souls and our capacity for love. Having children demands sacrifice, but brings great joy. Having children cracks open our hearts. And yes, as with all love, having children leaves us vulnerable to having our hearts broken—but love is always worth it." (And for men and women who long for children and never receive this gift, we know God provides other opportunities for their hearts to deepen in love.)
This Sunday’s first reading speaks to the tenderness of God. “As nursling, you shall be carried in her arms and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her children, so will I comfort you, in Jerusalem, you shall find your comfort.” We extract a theology of God from the book of Isaiah of God as a mother comforting, loving, and caring for her children. A mother can relate to a God who comforts when she kisses the scraped knee of a toddler or listens to the teenager excluded. As a Christian, having children naturally teaches us about God. Some people call it the Theology of Parenthood: we learn who God is through our lived experience as a mother or father.
The moment our first child was born, I knew I would die for her. I could not believe how crazy in love I was with this tiny human, who could barely open her eyes. I thought, “Did my mom feel the same with me?” Of course, she did. As parents, we eventually understand that If God is like a father or mother, then God loves our children even more than we do.
Through parenthood, we learn about grace—God’s fatherly or motherly presence. We glimpse the depth of God’s love, who gave His only Son for us. We realize God sets laws for our protection and guides us for our own good. We understand God comforts us when we are sick or hurt and holds us tenderly when we feel lonely or forsaken. We discern God’s deep and merciful love—always willing to welcome home the prodigal son or daughter. How could God turn us away when we—broken, sinful humans—embrace our children who return home?
The other evening, a young couple walking past our home with two Cockapoos stopped and introduced themselves. They met at college, married one year ago, and have their “babies”—their dogs. I told them about our children and grandchildren. The woman’s eyes twinkled, “I’ve been thinking it would good to have children—maybe even four.” Her husband smiled. I chimed in: “Life may be chaotic at times, but having a crew can be a blast! Plus, raising children is a most worthwhile place to pour your time—your life. You can't even imagine the love!” In my heart of hearts, I wanted to shout, “Have those babies! They will be a blessing and you will begin to grasp just how much God loves you!” As parents, we are sent out to share the message of God’s unconditional love through the gift of children. Now, that's good news!
What has parenthood taught you about God?
What gifts have your children or grandchildren brought you?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pixabay
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.