Every night I go into their room. I pull up the covers. I kiss them. I touch their cheeks. And I whisper a prayer for them to love Jesus and for Him to always be near to them.
I love that they live in a world without trauma or abuse, for too many children I know the reality. I love that they do not know the fear of dialing 911 to plead for help like I do. I love that nightmares do not plague their dreams like they did for me. But I also know it will not always be this way for them.
My children will grow up and suffer injuries. They will watch people they love die. Their hearts will break and ache as they learn about history and the world. They will learn the darkness of sin all on their own.
Already my children ask questions about injustice.
Already they want to know how old God is and how he was created. What he is most like.
I know this in my bones: It’s easy when you grow up a certain way to declare that NEVER will your children suffer the same tragedies. And maybe they won’t. But they will suffer.
They will lose friendships. Babies and pregnancies. Homes. Jobs. Dreams. Their own parents. Natural disasters will happen. War might even.
We can’t control this world, but we can control our tongues. That little part of us that holds the power of life and death. We can speak words that point our children to Jesus. And we can bravely step into our own brokenness and let them watch us heal.
We can let them watch us forgive. Let them watch us reconcile with our husband after a fight. Let them watch us apologize for our words or behaviors over and over and over until it is routine…a lived-lesson in self-control and humility.
They can watch us refuse to objectify others. Refuse to do anything else but risk our hearts to love others over and over and over. Offer grace when it feels impossible. Hug the difficult. Give away a portion of our income every month, because we make a life by what we give.
Our children are the most precious souls. They are eternal, like we are. Purposefully designed and placed. Marveled over.
And we are the blessed ones. To get to hold them. To laugh at silly things with them. To watch them clap then crawl then walk then speak. To delight in their giftings and tendencies. To challenge their weaknesses. To discipline them with respect.
Parenting is a journey of learning radical love outside ourselves. It is daily self sacrifice. Some days it’s coffee and binging movies. Some days it’s school and chores. Some days it’s sunshine and salt water. But all of it is meant to be steeped in love, like a bag of black tea in hot water that cannot help but give itself over.
I am learning all of this. Everyday. And I don’t think God ever intended for us to learn it all at once.
Today, hold your child’s face in your hands. Tell them they are priceless. Tell them God created them exactly, perfectly how he wanted. Gave them to you to love and protect. Tell them you love them more than the air you breathe.
Tell them even if no one ever spoke such truths to you.
Tell them even if it feels awkward those words on your lips. Because you are FULLY capable of enormous love.
Excuses do not work here. Love doesn’t lean on excuses of learned behaviors. It just does and is no matter the work or discomfort.
Because practice really does make perfect, and never so much as when it is applied to loving a child. And because a generation of well-loved children will absolutely change the world.