“teach the young women to … love their children…”
Mom’s been writing her thoughts on this over in the Titus 2 corner. And what great, impacting thoughts. And how totally contrary to what we learn from the culture around us. Love children? Value them? Speak well of them? Nurture them? Sacrifice for them? Do anything other than endure them?
No, loving children is not the popular message. All the way from Roe vs. Wade, to the casual complaints heard towards the end of August when moms are wishing those yellow buses would come give them their deserved break from the little tyrants, there’s a message we hear loud and clear: It’s all about you, and certainly not about them.
That’s not the Bible’s message. At all.
For some, loving children seems to be one of those natural talents. Babies settle in their arms, kids flock to them, they are the most sought-after babysitters. For others of us (like me!), sitting in a nursery of toddlers for over an hour can be a totally overwhelming proposition. I’m not good with kids! Trust me, I’ve had the thought, too.
But regardless of your natural abilities to charm people of 3-ft stature, we must all learn to love children.
Given how much we have going against us culturally, certainly the best time to start learning that is now, whether you’re a teenager, single adult, or have four children already! And certainly the best way to start learning that is to simply start loving the children you encounter.
No one gets off the hook with a cold, aloof, (half-scared, come on, admit it), “Uh, kids just aren’t my thing.” And as the Word of God seeps into our hearts, transforming the way we think about people in general, we’ll be amazed by how suddenly, these running, falling, tripping, laughing, runny-nosed kids look like seeds of promise. Like destiny waiting for investment. Like an entire future of potential that you could possibly help to bring about.
How? By speaking to them as though they’re people. By telling their mother how blessed she is. By freely giving a gentle touch as they pass by. By counting them worthy of your sacrifice of time (because they are.) By telling them, and reminding yourself, that God made them.
I know, personally, that as I let truth wash over me as a young single woman, I was amazed by how shallow my love for children had been — and how life-changingly deep God wanted it to become. I never became a natural at doing nursery, but I knew it was a privilege. Babysitting, to this day, makes me a tad nervous, but there are few other opportunities that excite me to the possibility of being used by the Holy Spirit. Some days, after meditating on the blessing of children, I find my heart ready to burst into tears at the playground as I watch so many babies and toddlers and young children running and playing, and — and do they know the Lord? Because they need to!
I guess what I most want to communicate is that sometimes we need to be willing to learn to love children. (And if an older woman is supposed to teach us, then obviously we’re supposed to be learning.) You know how God loves the whole world, but He also loves you? Well, I think that’s what God wants us to learn about loving children. It’s wonderful to be moved by the idea of helping children the world over, but He also wants me to love the toddler at church whose behavior is a little…well. He wants me to “go out of my way to cherish every person I encounter, and to be the strongest voice of enthusiasm to every newly-pregnant mom I meet — regardless of how many they already have, how young their previous is, and how much their husband brings home.” (I wrote a bit about this theme last year: being pro-life starts with valuing life.)
Certainly we’ve all heard stories about how a life was forever impacted by one woman’s kindness. I want to be used by God as that woman. I want to stand out in a baby-killing, family-hating, child-despising world as a minister of love and life. And I don’t want to just be a bit better; I want to have the heart of God.