They say that when you become a parent, you learn about God from a whole new perspective. You begin to understand the love God the Father has for us, His children, through your love for your children. Recently parenting did indeed teach me about the love of God — but I wasn’’t the one mirroring the Father’s image. Instead, it was the way my seven-year-old son loved me that gave me a glimpse of how God loves me.
Six-thirty a.m. on a school day. No amount of sugar-coating will make it less ugly, so I’ll just be frank: I threw a colossal temper tantrum. Complete with name-calling and kicking a kitchen cabinet. I yelled. I slammed dishes around. I shamed and belittled a seven-year-old. Just seeing this description of myself in black and white makes me want to crawl in a hole … but there it is.
By the time we needed to leave, I wasn’t yet truly feeling sorry. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t have a sincere desire to repent and reconcile with my kids. I was still angry — a combination of anger over the original trigger, and anger at myself for acting so irrational and out-of-control. Mercifully, I had a moment of clarity, realizing that if something happened that day, and the last interaction I had with my son was this shameful tantrum, I’d never be able to live with it.
So I knelt down and looked in his eyes. I told him that although I had been angry, that didn’t make it okay for me to yell at him and call him a baby, and I was wrong to treat him like that. I apologized and asked him to forgive me.
Elijah didn’t hesitate to extend forgiveness. It frequently blows me away how quick my children are to accept my apologies, even when I’ve been horrible to them. I hugged and kissed him, and also hugged and kissed my four-year-old (who had suffered collateral damage from my tantrum, receiving a few harsh words of his own for minor things that ordinarily wouldn’t have been such a big deal), and we got in the car.
While the instant forgiveness was beautiful and impressive, that wasn’t what struck me hardest. The really remarkable thing happened later that morning.
It was my first opportunity to volunteer in Elijah’s first grade classroom. I went in at 9:00 a.m., and when Elijah and his classmates filed in from gym class, they found me sitting at a table in the back.
And despite the terrible morning we’d had — despite the inexcusable way I’d treated him just a couple of hours before — my son was thrilled to see me. He was excited to claim me, to identify with me. He wanted all his little friends to know that “Miss Amy” was his mom. He did a great job acting normal, not going crazy or being super distracted by my presence, but again and again, he’d shoot me a glance from across the room and grin big.
I only stayed for an hour, but I thought about the pride in Elijah’s eyes, the joy in his smile, for the rest of the day. He didn’t look at me and think, That’s the crazy, angry mom who screamed at me and made me feel sad this morning. He saw me and delighted in me. He saw me and welcomed me. He saw me and thought, That’s my mom! I love her! It’s so great that she’s here with me!
I’m not saying it doesn’t matter that I have a yelling problem. I’m not saying I don’t need to work on that. But in the midst of my messy, ugly brokenness, God had a sweet picture for me. Through the unconditional love of my seven-year-old son, I think He was showing me:
When you sin against Me, I see the beauty of My Son in you, overpowering the ugly parts of your heart.
When you sin against Me, I welcome you with open arms.
When you sin against Me, I still love you. I still call you Mine. I am so glad when you want to be with Me.
It was my son’s unhesitating delight in me, despite my sin, that melted my heart. I didn’t repent when I belittled myself internally: You are not fit to be his mother. How can you treat him that way, you jerk?! Believe me, those words pounded in my head. But when they did, I felt only shame and disgust, which merely fueled my anger. It was seeing Elijah’s smile that made me truly repentant about how I’d treated him. It was the love in his eyes that triggered sorrow over my sin.
I want to model unconditional love and quick forgiveness toward my kids. But in order to get there, I first have to learn to rest secure and confident in the Father’s unconditional love and quick forgiveness toward me. His response to my ugliest sin is to stretch His arms wide and invite me to His throne of grace where I’ll find mercy. And I can love my sons well only when I realize how wide and long and high and deep is His love for me.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
How To Change Your Life in 10 Minutes
Here's how you can change your life with a simple 10 minutes a day.
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Here are practical ways to help your child lean into the voice of God.
5 Strategies for Developing Lasting Love
These practical and biblical strategies can help you develop lasting love.
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
What Women Are Saying
--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith4 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship5 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 weeks ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage5 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith4 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships6 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Articles8 years ago
June Cleaver Syndrome