I could write a book about all the things I’ve learned from having kids. In fact, many people have written books about what they’ve learned from raising children (books I won’t have time to read until after my kids are grown unfortunately). Through my children, I continue to gain insight about my strengths, weaknesses, habits, language and even a few good traits I am proud to see replicated in my offspring.
However, the most notable area of life that I glean knowledge from raising children is in my relationship with God. It seems like every day I can hear God whisper in my ear about how I am His child and how my relationship to my kids compares. For example, I lose my cool after telling my kids to do something just a few times. Then I remember how patient God is with me and how He reminds me several times daily over decades to do something. Ouch.
The most recent learning opportunity came because one of my sons was arguing with me about something that I knew was wrong but he was positive he was right. I don’t even remember what it was. Probably something inconsequential, like a plate being blue verses red. During this fun little spar with my 3-year-old, it came to mind that even though he was completely wrong, I was enjoying the moment and found myself thinking how much I love this kid.
It occurred to me at that moment that God looks at us in a similar way. Here on earth, we spend our time fighting with other people, pointing fingers, being cocksure about something that we feel is of ultimate importance. And we go round and round with others, building up walls and pushing people away because they are wrong and we are right. We tend to even take our disagreements to the level of not loving others based on our viewpoints.
But then there is God, and He watches us arguing over inconsequential matters (and we are probably completely wrong) but still He looks at us with His intense, unending love.
I have fallen, and continue to fall, into the trap of losing my love and even my like of people who I feel are wrong and have opposing viewpoints. If I’m not careful, I can transfer my beliefs onto the person of God, and falsely believe that because I think someone is wrong and I don’t like them, God probably doesn’t like them either.
But we are His kids and God loves us, right or wrong. I know He wants us to find truth, but He doesn’t stop loving us until we find it. I love my kids no matter if they think a plate is blue or red. Their beliefs don’t change my love for them and God’s love doesn’t change depending on our beliefs, either. So why does my love for others change based on what they believe?
I don’t have this figured out in my life yet, but I do know that God is pretty clear about how much He loves us, and because of His love for us, we must also love others.
“And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” 1 John 4:21.
In a culture full of growing divisions and disparities in beliefs, I’m finding it ever more important to remember that God loves all of His children and I should love all of them, too. Because if everyone is worthy God’s perfect love, then everybody is definitely worthy of my imperfect love, too.
Ryan Koltiska is the executive director of Sheridan KidsLife.