Feelings exploded inside my heart when I first realized I was pregnant with each of my children. Overwhelming love and new life filled my empty places only God could have created. When I saw their hearts beating on the ultrasound at 7 weeks, tears poured down my cheeks making wet stains on the white paper covered table. My child was a part of me, and I loved to the core of my being.
Each child emerged from my body, a new life from the Creator. Embracing their tiny bodies, I whispered words of love into their perfect ears. Tracing their faces with my fingers, I loved and accepted every part of these precious children. They were mine to love, train and place again in God’s hands.
Years have passed since those days, and yet the tears still course down my face as the memories rush into my mind. They are miracles, gifts from my Father who knows how to give beyond my deepest desires. On days of birth, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling frustrated or passive about these precious children. They are mine, and surely my overwhelming feelings for them would never change.
The day came when my oldest expressed her will; she refused to eat the baby food I had carefully made. Warm emotions didn’t spill over as I struggled to convince her to eat. The strange, uncomfortable truth filled my heart. Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. How could this truth even apply to my children? Shouldn’t I simply feel love for them, and never struggle to give it?
I think about Jesus in the garden. He willing left His perfectly heavenly home because of His love for His children. He came to this sinful earth filled with love and pursuing a relationship destroyed by those He loved. Yet in the garden Jesus didn’t feel like loving when it meant giving His very life. He had to choose to love without any feeling.
Jesus’ struggle brings me hope in the middle of days when I don’t feel love for a child who is arguing. Jesus’ life in me helps me make a choice when I hear my children fighting with each other, saying hurtful words. I understand I can feel sad and disappointed with a child who didn’t think of others first, and yet choose to speak words of wisdom with kindness.
I can choose every day to speak words of love and life into my children even if I don’t feel love. Even when I don’t understand the child is acting so differently from how I taught. My love cannot be based on my feelings; I must desperately hang onto the love of Christ. Jesus’ love never fails, and this love encompasses me.
Showing Jesus’ love is a privilege and sometimes overwhelming responsibility. My children need to hear me say these 10 truths every day. When they doubt themselves and feel the abandonment of friends, they can know my love.
1. I love you. There is nothing you can ever do to change my love for you.
2. I saw you really trying when you ______________________. I know it isn’t easy for you, but I’m glad you’re not giving up.
3. God made you perfectly. Everything about you is exactly how He planned.
4. You are an important part of our family. We need you.
5. Please forgive me. I don’t want to hurt you. Will you pray that Jesus will help me to change?
6. I noticed you showing Jesus’ love when you_______________________. Showing Jesus’ love isn’t always easy, but you did a great job.
7. God has amazing plans for your life. You will do great things for Him.
8. You make me smile when you________________. You are so much fun!
9. Thank you for __________________. I really appreciate when you help me.
10. I am so glad you were born. My life is so wonderful with you in it!
Each moment, each day I must choose to love. I must choose to allow my words to bring life. I will trust the Creator of my children to give me His love and strength.
Copyright© words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein