Oh, there is so much in my heart. Music and poetry and sunshine and shade. Longing and fulfillment, and knowing that I am growing to understand something I did not understand when I was younger. A heart so full can hardly be full of only one thing, but the one that comes to the fore today – I am in love with my children. I work with the youth group at my church, and although I do not yet have any children of my own body, I can hardly say I do not have any of my own. I call them my kids. Even, I imagine, as a parent who aches over a child who does not want a relationship with that parent, my heart goes out over some of these who do not trust me enough to really let it all down. I don’t suppose I could fix much for them, but I could love on their sorrows and comfort their shaken little hearts. I long to do so—and when they let me close I yearn over them even more.
And that is what I didn’t understand before—what it means to yearn over a child. Yearning for someone is different than yearning over someone. The first is wanting, to fill emptiness, the second is wanting to pour out from a fullness, as well as desiring a response. Today the kids led the service in church, and my heart almost overflowed, there was so much in it. Much of it was God, Himself, but so much of it was tied up in thanks to Him for who He made them, and how proud I was of them. Sometimes people say to me that they don’t know how I can spend so much time working with teens, that they could never do it. I reply that I love them, and that is why I should be the one to do it. Of course they’re ridiculous and silly and they don’t know a blessed thing, but my seniors in high school are saying that the 6th graders are little kids, and are not the people my parents’ age saying that I, at a babyish 29, also do not know anything about life? It’s OK that they’re teens.
And I do love them so. All this year God has had me conscious of issues of mothering, of parenting, and though I think I have more questions than answers, some of the answers come in my interactions with my kids. The Bible talks about how there are many, many teachers, but few Fathers—few who parent truly, deeply, personally. Few who pour their lives into the growing of others’ lives, few who bring life for others from the giving of their own lives. Has there ever been a person like that in your life? Someone with whom you feel it is not only safe, but perfectly acceptable, to be you? When I think of the perfect parent, I think of someone who knows me all the way through, is inherently delighted in me because our relationship involves belonging, someone with whom I can be completely honest even if it’s ugly, someone who is bigger and wiser than me, who can handle it when I’m in bad shape. Someone that I don’t have to take care of, but who takes care of me. That’s the kind of parent I want to be.
And at least as a start, that’s how I feel about my kids—they delight me. They’re all different, there’s so much diversity in their potential, and even when they’re foolish or less than well behaved, I don’t love them less. In fact, it’s when they’re real—bad or good, that I yearn over them most. When I see them determinedly walking down a path I know will cause them pain, I ache for that pain, because I have learned lessons the hard way myself, and I would spare them if I could. When they open their hearts in honesty, let me in, or walk in the path of blessing that I see lies before them, my heart rejoices, and I yearn over them like I did this morning. When the littler ones come to me for hugs and kisses it swells my heart so that I hardly know what to do with it, and when the bigger ones act the same way, but in their shyer, cooler teenager-way, I smile in amusement and ache to see them grow into men and women who are strong and remember gentleness.
There’s no profound or clear point I'm making today—just musings on love and questions of how very great, how very much more there is in this life than we take the time to learn. I hope that someday I will find that the love I have for my kids was worth even partially as much to them as loving them is to me.