A 1 Corinthians 13 God

jesus imageI blew it with my little girl a couple of days ago. Our day was busy and stressed in general — so it wasn’t until the next morning that, having reflected on what had transpired the day before, I dropped to my knees in front of her to apologise and reconnect. I told her I was so sorry for losing my temper and patience the day before — that that was not the kind of mother I wanted to be. And my tall little girl smiled and exhaled, beaming pure grace down on me.

I know what kind of mother I am supposed to be. By supposed, I mean the mother I long to be in order to express the bottomless love I feel for my children. The mother I was born and am intended to be.

Patient, kind, not proud, not dishonouring others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of their wrongs, always protecting them, always trusting them, always hoping, always persevering, and never failing them (I Cor 13 4-8 in short).

That’s a tall order for a human and I know that try as I may — and I do — I’ll still fail a lot. But that’s ok — it’s not about striving for perfection. It’s good for my children to see me fail, but to apologise and to make things right again when I do because it sets an example for what they themselves must also do to remain in relationship with those around them when they also make mistakes. It also shows them that they are priceless and that they deserve to be valued. But they need me to be a I Cor 13 kind of parent, as much as humanly possible, in order to fully bloom, and in order to grow as 1 Cor 13 people themselves. They need me to be big enough to withstand and absorb their littleness and all that that means.

The incredible news for humanity is that, since God is no hypocrite, telling us how to love but then living above that law himself, he himself is a I Cor 13 parent — as much mother as he is father. And he is more than big enough to withstand and absorb our littleness.

What this means is that there is nothing you have to do, say or think in order to win his love and acceptance. There is nothing that you can do, say or think in order to lose his love and acceptance. He really is that big.

The reason my daughter beamed at me when I expressed to her what I did was because, at 6, she knows that this is the kind of mother I am supposed to be too. She knew much younger than that and has likely always known. We don’t have to teach children what a loving parent looks like — they recognise them immediately, I believe, because perfect love resides within them, in the Person of Jesus, just as in all people. And so though they may not have the words to say so, they recognise the opposite of loving actions as well.

I am sure that this is the reason the children are said to have flocked to Jesus. They would have recognised him as a I Cor 13 person because those are the people that children are drawn to. Sadly, as adults, we can forget, believing the lies too long that God’s love is conditional or that God is somehow half love and half stern, irrevocable justice and control.

All I know is that when I am harsh with my children even when provoked, I always regret it swiftly and dearly. When I am able to choose kindness, patience, trust and forgiveness, my soul swells and vibrates with the rightness of it. But when I react with impatience, control, anger and punishment, or shame my child, my soul shrinks and shudders at what I have done and demands that, for the sake of relationship, I make things right again.

This happens, I believe, because perfect love resides within me, as in all people, in the Person of Jesus. And so we know it when we see it.

I am so grateful that, like his Father, he is tirelessly patient and kind with us, that he sees the best in all of us, that he will never fail or disappoint us, and that he keeps no record of our wrongs. The love that I feel from him, I want my children to feel from me (and him). That kind of unconditional love transforms and illuminates everything.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

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