How many times have you heard the phrase that being a mother is natural and your instinct will kick in??? I love this chapter of Fields book, “Parenting is your highest calling…”
She has so many poignant ideas that strike a chord deep in my mothering soul. In this chapter she talks about how parenting is actual quite the opposite especially if we consider our human nature. As Christians we know that we have a sinful nature that is selfish and not at all capable of constantly loving unconditionally. She starts the chapter with a moment I’ve had numerous times in my mothering years. A day starts with the intention of being loving, kind, generous and loving unconditionally but one thing leads to another…I fight with my son, I get irritated with my daughter, food gets spilled, toys are strewn everywhere and bedtime is a battle. She sums it up exactly how I feel…”By the time we were done my heart was cold. I had lost my appetite for sweet affirmations of love and I no longer felt like praying…My life with this son did not begin this way.”(p38) How many times in a day have I cried these same words.
She proceeds to explain that as we check scripture against this idea that loving is natural and instinctive we will find exactly the opposite. I love how she pulls scripture after scripture out of the old testament of God’s disappointment in his chosen people for their lack of obedience and faith. His desire to give them so much more but their lack of interest and often turning their backs on the one who loves them most. Yet he continually disciplines them and then gives them another chance. He communes with them despite his holy anger at their disobedience and wayward ways. The challenge she presents is how are we measuring this “natural” love we have for our children.
“I want to measure love not by what I receive but by the orientation of my own heart and my actions towards others.” (p. 52) If I chose to recognize that I will not naturally love my children unconditionally because I simply can’t do that on my own but to find freedom in the fact that in God’s grace he will give me what I need to love my children and long for communion with them despite the things they do.