When we love others--especially our children--we teach them what is lovable about themselves.
Which is interesting... and tricky... and dangerous... because our values and preferences get in the way. Who I am, how I've been loved, what I love, changes how I can love my children... and this changes how they can love themselves.
What a scary prospect. What a scary position to be in.
Having two boys who are so wildly different from each other, I'm already beginning to sense this unique challenge embedded in parenting.... how to love each child in such a way that their unique strengths flourish, their personal weaknesses are bolstered, they believe in the unimpeachable permanence of their own deep worth just as they are, AND they don't feel any sense of competition or comparison or inequitable love between each other.
As I was thinking about writing this, I had the one year old curled up contentedly in my lap working on building a lego tower (put the blocks together, take them apart, study their sides, put them together again, take them apart. Over and over.)... while the 3 year old was running back and forth squealing like crazy, working up a baby sweet sweat, and throwing socks at my head as I lobbed them back with psshew! pshew! sounds.
Everyone was having a grand time being exactly who they are. Exactly opposites.
One child is studious and intentional.
The other is passionate and creative.
One child is sweet to everyone.
The other is fiercely loyal.
It's not an age thing. It's who they are at their core... from the moment they came out.
Fact: Our culture values the quiet, studious, intentional, puzzle solver. Our culture is less appreciative of the wild, squealing, passionate, sock hurling mighty-man.
But they are both beautifully essential just as they are.
Our culture is wrong.
Each small boy is a budding man who has his perfect place in this world.
As parents, we must intentionally reject the notion that one way of being is better than another because it is more advantageous to career and finances. We cannot smash our wild men into tiny boxes. We cannot chide our box builders into greater wild-man-ism. When we try to change their natures, we water down their strengths. We must celebrate and take pride in the natural wonder of their first inclinations and help those to flourish.
What a challenging roll to take. Sometimes I feel like I'm living with split personality trying to love everyone the way they need to be loved.
Add to that a husband... and myself... and we're all so different but we're all yearning for understanding and connection. Wow.
God equip us to love others as they need to be loved, not as we wish to love them.
God empower us to appreciate what you have designed, just as it is.
God redeem where our strengths have erred into weaknesses.
And all for your love's sake.