Mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.” – Rachel Jankovic
When I was a younger career-minded single person, I went through a phase of thinking I may not want to have children. Everything I heard of them, or experienced through baby sitting, was they were messy, needy, and a lot of work. I wasn’t so sure I was up for it. Their excessive physical and emotional needs seemed to get in the way of my introverted, cerebral, and quite honestly, selfish tendencies.
I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in my early 20s and found myself playing with the kids. Actually they found me. Two brothers in particular would come up to me and grab hold of my hand and pull me into their games or simply want to stand beside me. I remember telling a friend, “I didn’t do anything to make them like me.” She simply responded, “Maybe that’s the point.”
In many ways that sums up little kids. They love not because of what we are doing for them but simply because of our presence in their lives. As mom that role is much more significant. Now I have two of my own. I can’t say that I was all wrong about how much they would require of me, but it’s far more purposeful than wiping snotty noses and coaxing picky eaters at the dinner table. They also watch every move I make, every word I speak, and it is especially significant to them whether I acknowledge their presence.
It is also significant to the audience we find ourselves on display for in public. Others are watching how we respond to and love our children. When we choose to put their needs before our own, it says something.
This is especially true of Nathan. He is more defenseless and needy than most. I don’t enjoy being on public display. At all really. But I’m beginning to see the figurative significance of standing beside and caring for my innocent and vulnerable child. I do this not for what I will receive from him, but simply because of my love for him. Our relationship by its very divinely created nature (not my own nature) is an example of sacrificial love.
And Nathan innocently loves me, not in return for what I do for him, but simply because of who I am in his life. It’s reciprocal really. Everyday he teaches me how to love unconditionally.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.com
The above quote has been rattling around in my mind and heart for a long while now. In just a few sentences it has given me a reminder in my purpose as a parent, and especially in parenting Nathan with all his extra needs.
It’s true that as a mom, “You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy.” You lay aside many of your desires for your children just as Christ did for us. What a beautiful and memorable picture of part of the gospel.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:12-13
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