Yesterday I had the opportunity to experience for the first time a little bit of what God might feel when someone isn't loving one of His kids the way He thinks they should be loved. I know it's pretty crazy that I've never really internalized such an experience before. I mean, I have been a parent for almost seven years. I guess I'm just a little more clueless than I'd like to admit.
It all started about three weeks when our four-year-old decided to start a separation anxiety thing every time we go to church or Bible study. We were approaching the parking lot at church the first time her new phase showed its terribly tumultuous little face. Unsure of the catalyst but clear on the fact that she needed to get through it, we lovingly convinced her (or maybe just ourselves) that she would have fun at church as we left her in the very capably loving hands of the Kuddly Kittens coordinator. (That would be the wonderful lady that oversees the 4-year-old department at our church.) Well, yesterday when we made clear our intentions of going to church, those many tears returned, yet again. And yet again, we questionned her as to what it might be about church that she doesn't like. And again she answered, "We have to do so much work!" So we probed a little more and were told that there's just to much coloring involved! OK, hold the phone. This is the four-year-old who has been coloring perfectly beautiful pictures for about six months, in the lines and everything. So. . .
It occurred to me that perhaps there's just a little too much structure for my young four-year-old. After all, she will be in the four-year-old class for two years before she enters the kindergarten class. (Because of her late summer birthday, she misses the kindergarten cut-off date by one day.) So my husband and I decided to put her back into the less structured, more playing-time Busy Bees class (aka the Sunday School class for the three-year-olds). We decided to have her repeat that class instead of the Kuddly Kittens class before going on to kindergarten in two short years.
Unfortunately, I hadn't thought through the possible added stress this impromptu decision might cause some of those who work with the three-year-old class. And I was caught off guard when I saw that stress written all over one's face as she tried to calm a screaming child (not mine -- thankfully) while processing the idea of adding one more child (mine) to her already very full classroom. What an amazing servant of God this woman is. But also, to my pedestal-breaking disappointment yesterday, human.
So we sent our beloved in, after some deliberation with the powers that be, and went on to our own class, where I proceeded to start crying before walking back out. I just wanted my daughter to be loved. I knew that she was in very loving and capable hands. I just wanted her to feel the love of those hands more than the capability of them. Oh, how I long for my children to want to know Jesus! And to know His unexplainable love! I wanted their love for her to be sincere. Not forced. And it made me cry to think that she might not experience it the way I wanted her to. The way I expected her to.
In spite of all of this, she was beaming when we picked her up. She had fun. She even remembered the story! And she played with friends and had snacks. I am seriously thanking God Almighty for that! She had nary a clue about any of what had gone on in my own heart (and in the privacy of the bathroom stall where I broke down and cried until I could compose myself).
And as I debriefed myself yesterday afternoon, I realized that maybe, just maybe, that's a little bit how God feels when I don't love His children sincerely and with authentic love. When any of us doesn't genuinely love someone that He loves, I think it probably tears Him up inside. I'm guessing He doesn't need to go into the bathroom stall at church to let it out, but I am pretty sure it hurts Him just the same.
But it's hard to love the unlovely! Yep. Just like it was probably hard for that Sunday School teacher to get past the idea of adding even more possible stress to her time with the very busy Busy Bees. I mean, my daughter was having a hard time in the other class, so who was to say she wouldn't experience that kind of turmoil here too? But I still desparately wanted that teacher to love her and to want her in there.
Romans 12:9 and 10 says, "Love must be sincere...Be devoted to one another in brotherly love." Too much to ask? Maybe. But the beginning of that twelfth chapter in Romans is where we are told to "offer (our) bodies as living sacrifices." And to "be transformed by the renewing of (our) mind(s). Then (we) will be able to test and approve what God's will is." So it's His deal -- this sincere and genuine love. We let Him have His way with us. He transforms us. We love like He wants us to. Yep. Definitely too much to ask without that plan. But it's His plan I'm living for. Not mine. It's His love I'm called to give. Not mine. It's His four-year-olds I am called to tickle and serve and teach and LOVE. Not mine. Good thing. Because sometime it's hard.