As I was reading Natalie's recent post about the protectiveness that motherhood brings out in her, I was taken back to my first two weeks with Brynn. Those fierce emotions hit me like a freight train after Brynn was born. Suddenly, love was so much easier to understand.
Within hours of Brynn's birth, I understood that a parent's love for a child is a metaphor for God's love for us. I even took it so far as to consider the idea that until one becomes a parent, one cannot truly understand the depth and breadth of God's love for us. It is only through parenting that we experience such selfless, sacrificial love.
I love my husband. I would defend him and fight for him and give my life for him. He is a gift from God. But my kids? It is like my love for my husband...times a billion. I would, without a second thought, throw myself in front of a bus for my children. I would give not one, but two kidneys. I'd give my heart and every ounce of blood in my body for my children. There is nothing that I would not do to ensure their safety and their survival.
And the metaphor continues. With my children, nothing is unforgivable. Should they wrong me in some way and then apologize sincerely, I would forgive them for anything. I love them so much that nothing they could do could ever cause me to stop loving them.
I remember lying in the hospital bed after Brynn was born and thinking about the story of the prodigal son. I've probably even blogged about it before. It was such a huge revelation for me that I still think about it often. I grew up having a tough time relating to the father in the story of the prodigal son. I related well to the older brother -- maybe it was my nature as a self-righteous older sister. The older brother had done everything right. He was responsible and respectful and fulfilled every duty he was given. His younger brother was wild and irresponsible, but when that younger brother returned home groveling, he was celebrated. The younger brother was barely even in his father's line of sight before he was forgiven and the party started.
I wondered how that was possible. How could the father love his son so much that he would forgive him despite such stupidity? And how is it possible that God loves us so much that he would do the same?
Then I looked down at my utterly perfect baby, my baby who was so clearly knitted together by the hands of God, and I understood. At only a few hours old, I would do anything for her. Anything.
And as I read Natalie's blog today, about how the government says that baby Theo has a deformed foot and a low set ear but all his mom sees is an absolutely perfect baby, I was reminded of how God sees us. He looks at us and he sees perfection, just the way we see perfection in our children. When I look at Callie's completely ridiculous outfits with two different socks and crazy skirts with tops that don't match, I see a vibrant and creative and independent child with the potential to be anything she wants to be. I see a child who is perfect in every way, absolutely beautiful and brilliant and full of life.
I am so thankful that God created parenthood as a mirror image of his relationship with us. Until we get there, until we hold that first beautiful baby in our arms and let our love wash over her, we really can't understand the intensity of what God feels for us or how he could love us the way he says he does. Being a parent gives us a glimpse, a reminder of what cherished gifts we all are.