Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Motherhood Taught Me about God: Our Constant Reliance on Him

Put on your Sunday School hats and name some good ways to learn about God. You probably said things like prayer, scripture study, and church worship. Those are at the top of my list, too.

Unfortunately, I'm also really good at saying, "Well, I know that, but..."

For instance, "Of course I know God's timing is best, but [insert reason I continue to act/think like this isn't true]" or "Yes, God is forgiving, but here's why it doesn't really apply to my current situation."

Clearly the message about who God is wasn't always sinking in. Something a little more constantly in-your-face was in order: He made me a mother.

You see, I believe that God is my father. By letting me experience parenthood myself, He's given me more insights than I can count into how He feels about me.

This post is the first in a series about some of the things I thought I knew  but as a mother I'm finally beginning to understand  about God.

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Try to remember back to the last time you watched a wildlife documentary. Did you ever notice that in the animal kingdom, almost every other species is really self-sufficient from a very young age?

Baby giraffes are up and walking around an hour after they're born. Sea turtles hatch, find their own way to the ocean, and swim away to find food and defend themselves.

With those facts in mind, think about a baby human. Completely immobile and practically blind at birth, babies depend on their parents to take care of their every need, all the time, around the clock. For crying out loud, the natural reflex of a 4-month-old is to pick up random objects and shove them in its mouth! 

Maybe one of the reasons we come into the world so helpless and so dependent on our parents for everything (and why we stay that way for a long time,) is to remind us of our utter dependence on God.

Sometimes I get so busy with life that I forget my own reliance on God. He needs to remind me that everything I have is just on loan from Him, and He uses symbols to do it. The Israelites gathered manna daily for 40 years in the wilderness; I have the constant stream of needs of 5 little people who call me Mom.

In 2012 Russel M. Nelson, an apostle from my church, told a funny little story:

Recently, Sister Nelson and I enjoyed the beauty of tropical fish in a small private aquarium. Fish with vivid colors and of a variety of shapes and sizes darted back and forth. I asked the attendant nearby, “Who provides food for these beautiful fish?”

She responded, “I do.”

Then I asked, “Have they ever thanked you?”

She replied, “Not yet!”

Parents love their children. God loves all of us, no matter how we behave toward Him or fail to acknowledge Him. Of course our actions might cause us to miss out on some of the blessings He would have happily given us, but no matter how unruly we are we just can't escape the fact that we're children of God, and parents do good things for their children. God makes the "sun rise on the evil and on the good" (Matthew 5: 45.)

Many of the things we do for our families are done quietly. We make meals, read books, give rides, wash clothes, and teach, teach, teach. Each small act of service is easy to overlook, but that's just what a parent does.

Likewise, so much of God's help is orchestrated quietly in the background of our lives. It's given regardless of our asking for it and regardless of our thanks. Even though we depend on it, it can be missed or taken for granted if we're not paying attention.

I have no doubt that if He'd wanted to, God could have designed life so that babies didn't demand so much of their parents. But He didn't, so there must be a lesson in it for me somewhere.

Jesus told us to become like little children, and little children depend on their parents. Oh boy, do they depend on their parents: some days I feel overwhelmed by kids asking me for help, stories, snacks, and signatures on permission slips  usually all at the same time.

It doesn't always help me to be patient in the moment, but I try to listen hard for God's voice in the cacophony: "They need you all the time, just like you need Me all the time."

Then I take a deep breath and try to do better that day, being more willing to seek, recognize, and thank my Heavenly Father for His constant presence in my life.

For more posts in the "What Motherhood Taught Me About God" series, check out:\

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Handsfullmom said...

Great points. My toddler threw a massive, screaming fit yesterday because she wanted to put her wet diaper back on, not have a new one (don't know where that irrational thought came from). My husband and I were laughing about how hysterical she was becoming and I pointed out, "This is probably how our tantrums look to God." We just don't understand that He's doing the best thing for us so sometimes we want to fight to get back what really isn't so great anyway.

Jenny Evans said...

I love this thought. More posts in this blog series are coming. :)