LEARNING ABOUT LOVE FROM TANTRUMS AND CHILDBIRTH
By Story Jones
When I was a 23-year-old new mother, my mother taught me to see each facet of parenting as an opportunity to learn something about myself. Particularly, myself in relation to God and His love for me. To see the tantruming toddler as a picture of me...I, like the toddler, thinking I know what I want, but really having no idea what I need. When I see, as God our Father may sometimes look upon us and see, my children finding joy in and loving one another (as I have loved them)--and I become aware of the joy it brings me, I do believe scripture (1 John 4:20, Matthew 25:40) that loving other humans is the way to show our love to God. Recognizing my 10-year-old's lack of perspective when a day is declared "the worst day of my life" because of one small misfortune helps me to remember that even more so, God must sigh (in love) and think, "If only you knew my plans for you, you would understand how small this moment is in the scope of eternity." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Even at work, as a midwife, I keep this lens on and learn about myself and God from my laboring clients. But there is something special about the parental metaphors in this facet of our lives as mothers. I see the agony, the sweat and tears, the water and the blood shed and think that this is a small way that we take on a picture of Christ, become a part of the reality in which the shedding of blood brings life.
This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
1 John 3:16
I see mothers who willingly accept that which they almost cannot bear, knowing that this is the price for the new life within them. (Matthew 26:39) If women do carry the curse from the Fall within our bodies as we bear children, it makes sense, then, that our labor would be paralleled in some way to Christ's bearing our curse on the cross. Our labor does not have the eternal spiritual ramifications that Christ's suffering has (any more than our imperfect love as mothers can reflect the perfect unending love of Christ) but surely it gives us a chance to see in a more tangible way what is meant by laying down your life for another. After our birth we are, in effect saying to the open-mouthed creature at our breast, "Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you."
When Christ prevailed over death, and bought back our lives, I think I may know some of the joy He had in doing so. Lest we focus only on His suffering, let me tell you, I have seen the faces of those who have conquered for love--who have shed blood to redeem life. Those faces beam with joy and most of all LOVE. It is a love that welcomes each of us to come and eat and live.
Since I wouldn't be able to share pictures from the births I get to attend as midwife, I'll share my (modest) birth slideshow from my own most recent birth. It is surely a beautiful family event in which God gives us such a gift of love. Enjoy it with the music on because it is a very special song chosen for her name, Sparrow, and sung by a client of mine with the most gorgeous voice.
I thought I'd close with some teaching of my father's (since I started with my mother's). A poem that he taught to us, and I've gone on to read with my children in our homeschooling, is by George Herbert. It is titled Love, and as you will tell from reading, the character called Love is Jesus.
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back, Guilty of dust and sin. But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lacked anything. “A guest," I answered, “worthy to be here”: Love said, “You shall be he.” “I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, I cannot look on thee.” Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, “Who made the eyes but I?” “Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame Go where it doth deserve.” “And know you not," says Love, “who bore the blame?” “My dear, then I will serve.” “You must sit down," says Love, “and taste my meat.” So I did sit and eat.
Story Jones, a Certified Nurse Midwife in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, is married to Josiah and together they have 5 beautiful children! To learn more about Story click here!