It’s hard to believe that only 3 weeks ago I met a little boy who I already love so much. There are few relationships in life that can truly be described as “love at first sight,” but motherhood is certainly one of them. Even before he was born, before I knew what he looked like or what kind of personality he would have, I loved him.
(And when you look at that face, how could you not??)
One of the aspects of this love relationship that makes it even more unique–and even a bit frustrating–is that the love is somewhat one-sided. At least, it is for awhile. Although I cannot presume to understand a newborn’s capability to recognize and understand love, I don’t think he understands much at this point. He knows I take care of him, feed him, and comfort him when he’s fussy, but love is a different matter. It is a concept that, I suspect, he is still learning. What’s more, I’m not sure his feelings toward me could be defined as much more than dependence, or perhaps trust. Even when he smiles, as in the picture above, it’s usually because he just passed gas or a massive poop!
I say that this aspect is frustrating, not because it makes me mad, but because I long for Isaac to understand just how much I love him. In fact, there are times when I look forward to him being a little bit bigger so that I can hug him as hard as I want to now. Currently, he’s just too fragile for the kind of bear hugs that I want to swallow him up with!
I yearn for my son to know just how much I love him. I cannot wait for him to understand how deeply he is adored, and there is a tiny ache in that waiting. But each day as I kiss his developing chipmunk cheeks and stare into his bright eyes, I can’t help but wonder if that ache is a taste of God’s ache for us.
Scripture is full of passages that describe God’s initiating love toward us. John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses, beginning with the lovely words, “For God so loved the world…” Ephesians 1:4 explains, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world,” and in John 15:16 Jesus tells us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” And then there is Romans 5:8, which contains the entire reason for our hope: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Time is different for God than it is for us finite humans, so I have no way of knowing if God “looks forward” to the day when we understand His love. But, as much as the parent-child relationship is employed throughout the Bible to describe our relationship with God, I suspect there is some part of my yearning that reflects the heart of God.
In the same way that I love Isaac wildly, despite the fact that he is not yet able to reciprocate, God has shown us the same kind of wild, unreciprocated love. Before we ever loved God, He first loved us. And in the same way that I want Isaac to understand how much He is loved, God also wants us to recognize His love–not because it will somehow complete Him or affirm Him, but because His love both brings us joy and brings Him glory.
Whether you are a long committed Christian or not a Christian at all, I want to encourage you with that truth today. You are loved whether you recognize it or not. In fact, God loved you before He ever created you. And in the same way that Isaac does nothing to earn my affection, God’s love is not contingent upon us either. God’s love for us begins in His character and action, not in ours. I forget this radical love so often, but this tiny, 6 pound bundle of miracle is a powerful daily reminder.