I have always heard that is difficult to explain and that I wouldn’t understand until I have one of my own. Of course I didn’t think these clichés were lies, but I didn’t think they were very helpful because of course if it was something I couldn’t understand until I was there, then what did I do need to do about that now?
Four months after having my first child I have now of course realized that it is in fact an experience unlike any other and that it cannot be fully appreciated or conceptualized until you have an experiential frame of reference for yourself.
It’s as though there was a dormant part of me that I was not aware of and that I did not conjure up, fabricate, or elicit, but that somehow was automatically turned on at the moment of my son’s birth. Something buried so deep that it was beyond my conscious recognition and awareness, was turned on like a light switch and brought forth to the surface, leaving me weeping and speechless. I have concluded that this was simply some sort of divinely hardwired component of my being. The amount of love, care, concern, and readiness to sacrifice for a being that had never spoken to me, never done anything for my pleasure, had never benefited me in any tangible way, is in some regards irrational and illogical, but nonetheless powerfully true.
When I learned of my wife and son’s car accident a few months after he was born, and I didn’t know yet that no one was significantly injured (for which I praise God), the anxiety, fear, and intense sense of emotional pain, loss, and devastation were near overwhelming.
I am of course coming to a greater understanding, and becoming more in touch with the analogies that the Bible uses of God being our Father. The perfect Father. The love that he feels for his creation and his children, The anguish and pain that he feels when his children are endangered, hurting, hopeless, and suffering (Ps 10:14; 22:24; Deu 10:18). I have also come to a greater appreciation of the fact that a father disciplines his child and even though it is painful, it is born out of love (c.f. Heb 12).
For many years as a single Christian with no children, I struggled to relate to God as a loving Father because of my own broken earthly familial relationships, now I am better able to view God as a Father who loves me because of the love that I feel for my son, and incidentally I’m able to better appreciate the love, albeit imperfect, that my earthly fathers had for me. I know that I am far from perfect and that my son will need to have plenty of grace with me as I try to love him tangibly in line with the measure of what I feel emotionally for him.
Thank God that He is able to love us perfectly, and perfectly in line with how he feels about us.