Monday, February 2, 2015

What Motherhood Taught Me About God: Our Infinite Worth

What Motherhood Taught Me About God: Our Infinite Worth -- are all people inherently good? what does God think about us?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Last week I was reading a Christian blog that generally uplifts and inspires me, but I came across a post that left me feeling a little flat.

It had a promising start. Basically the point was, don't compare yourself to people who you think are perfect, because actually no one is.

That's good, because I'd just realized I'd been walking around all day with someone else's snot smeared all over the shoulder of my sweater. I'd hate to think that never happens to anyone but me.

Anyway, I was reading along and nodding my head until I read a line reminding me that there's no such thing as a good person because really, we're all just wretched and depraved.

Now, waaait a minute...

Maybe it's just because we Mormons don't believe in original sin (I have plenty of my own to worry about, thank you very much,) but that doesn't sound at all right to me.

Call it humanity, conscience, or the Light of Christ, but I'd argue that all of us are created with some kind of innate goodness.

Once, I lost my 2-year-old at the mall. I don't mean she was hiding in a clothes rack and I didn't know where she was for three and a half seconds. I really lost her.

To this day I'm not sure how my extremely shy cling-to-my-legs-in-public toddler ever got so far away, but a woman found her way on the other side of the mall. Mall security saved the day and got us all together.

I've thought about that woman a lot since then. Why did she drop everything to help a random lost kid? I mean, any of us would've done the same, but why? I think the simple answer is that people are good.

One thing is for sure, if you've ever been through a similar experience and then came home to see this commercial on TV, you're going to bawl like a baby:

I guess I just can't quite wrap my head around the "total depravity" idea. I really do believe that we're God's children, and He's put a divine spark inside each of us. 

I don't pull all my doctrine from song lyrics, I promise, but a jazz singer named Ethel Waters put it better than I can: "I know I am somebody 'cause God don't make no junk."

Of course none of us is perfect (although I think I did make it for about 15 minutes one time,) but I'm a child of God, and God doesn't make junk.

I think I understand where certain Christians are coming from when they emphasize our sinful, fallen state. In their own way, they're pointing out our need for God's grace in our lives.

But as a mom it's hard for me to imagine any parent wanting their child to see themselves as depraved or wretched. I like to think that as our father, God sees us as His precious children who have infinite worth and potential. Even when we act like kids who need a really long time-out.

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

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files


Anonymous said...

Throughout the ages, people have wondered about the basic state of human nature—whether we are good or bad, cooperative or selfish. This question—one that is central to who we are—has been tackled by theologians and philosophers, presented to the public eye by television programs, and dominated the sleepless nights of both guilt-stricken villains and bewildered victims. Now, it has also been addressed by scientific research. Although no single set of studies can provide a definitive answer—no matter how many experiments were conducted or participants were involved—this research suggests that our intuitive responses, or FIRST instincts, tend to lead to cooperation rather than selfishness. Now add the love from our Heavenly Father, you can't deny we are inherently good, not depraved and wretched. That's why people will drop anything to look for a missing child in the mall :)

normaleverydaylife said...

Interesting post! I do think that people do good things, and many of them do a great many good things in their lifetime. But they can never do enough good things to earn their way into heaven. There is no one born of human parents that will ever be without sin. That's why I don't mind my kids hearing they're depraved. I want them to grow up recognizing their need for a Savior. Recognizing this doesn't make them worthless. On the contrary, it only serves to emphasize how much God loved us to send his own son to die for our sins.

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

So beautifully expressed, Jenny!

Toni @ Debt Free Divas said...

I like to think about how often I fuss and fight against things that God has a much better vantage point on. Like when my toddler wails when I put her in the play yard to keep her from toppling something on her head. At least that's the correlation I get from motherhood to my relationship with God.

Jenny Evans said...

Yes, it's not hard to see who has the better perspective among the two.

Queen Mom Jen said...

Very thoughtful post. I don't like the word depraved. It sounds so hopeless. I far prefer the word imperfect and because of our imperfections, foibles and mistakes we need a perfect and loving Savior to intercede for us.

Unknown said...

As a Catholic, I believe original sin is washed away through baptism, so then we are starting out at the same point as those who don't believe in original sin at all. I do believe we are innately good because we are made in the image of God, but our sinful nature and free-will wrecks it. I think motherhood gave me a great perspective on this because I can literally hate every choice one of my children makes in a day, but I still love who they are. There is a difference between who you are in God's eyes and the choices you make.

Jenny Evans said...

The fact that everyone comes with a conscience is, to me, just another evidence that we're children of God.

Unknown said...

Jenny, one of my favorite books is by Max Lucado "You are Special". In there he says (paraphrased), "God made me, and He doesn't make mistakes". I just love that. God made each one of us (and although we have agency to choose for ourselves) God doesn't make mistakes. Thank you for the sweet reminder!

Unknown said...

Sorry I didn't respond to this sooner Jenny - I read it on Tuesday and then lay in the bath that night thinking about it non-stop. This is one of those big, theological, meaning of life kind of questions and depending on what your background is you might be coming at this from such a different perspective. I was brought up completely secular - I have so little insight into what it's like to be brought up within a faith - but I know right from wrong and I believe that real Christian tenets of loving your neighbour and treating others how you would be treated are just human basics. I guess you could say I'm a Humanist but I don't know much about that! As for the religious doctrine that says everyone is a sinner, everyone is depraved at a base level - I can't see that as anything other than this very human construct designed by organised religion to emphasise this huge wide gap between the mortal and the divine. If anything I like the, I want to say, Buddhist idea of yin & yang - there is light in the darkness and dark in the light. Good and bad in all of us but we have the ability to seek the right balance. No one is perfect. I also think that we all operate, to some level, on the basis of selfishness - no matter how selfless the act may seem. So that lady in the mall who brought the lost child back? Maybe she thought - even at a completely subconcious level - what if that was my child? Or even, what have that child had been me? Anyway sorry for the essay! Thanks so much for linking this up to #thetruthabout Xx

Jenny Evans said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I love hearing people weighing in on this from such different perspectives and backgrounds.