By Denae Jones –
Whoever said they love all their kids the same is lying. I have six of them, and I can tell you, I do not love them all the same. They all tease each other that they are my favorite. My oldest daughter, Cara, even listed herself in my phone as ‘Favorite Daughter.’ And now, every time I type her name, my phone automatically replaces her name with ‘Favorite Daughter’ and two pink hearts. She did the same on my phone for her sister, only when I type Julia, my phone replaces it with ‘Least Favorite.’ No hearts. It makes us laugh. Even Julia, who is always a good sport. But having favorites is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how we love our children as parents.
I knew from the beginning that how I love each of my children would be very different, because they are very different people. As a baby, Cara wanted to be swaddled very tightly, held constantly, and never slept. She spoke like an adult, was very independent, and was reciting poetry at age two. Julia slept a lot, was slow to reach milestones, and couldn’t speak until age three because she had apraxia. She was extremely smart, learned sign language at age two, and melted my heart with her big brown eyes. Ben was full of energy, would only sleep while in motion, and taught himself how to ride a bike with no training wheels at age three, just so he wasn’t out-done by his sister. He is very competitive. Joshua slept in the ‘nook’ of my arm for the first four years of his life and asked me to marry him at least once a week. Despite the other kids telling him how gross that was, he was always looking out for Mom and making people laugh. Emily hated the swaddle and only slept alone in her crib. She is sassy, did everything earlier than the others, and prefers snakes over dolls. Paige joined our family when she was 6 years old. She laughs freely, is eager to help, incredibly difficult to wake up, and the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet.
I love them each fiercely, but I can’t love them the same. I have to love each of them uniquely. Some of them need the hugs and I love you’s throughout the day. First thing in the morning, at the end of any phone call, as soon as we walk in the door, before bed, and sometimes in between. Some of them figure we know we love each other, so there’s no need for all the mushiness. (They get it at least twice a day whether they like it or not, because that’s what I need!) Some of them leave notes, messages and pictures to show they were thinking of me. Others feel like their good behavior and completion of chores will do the same. I can’t express my love for them in the same ways because they are not all open to receive it in the same way.
Are there days when I like the actions of one of them a little better than the others? Yes. Do I love one of them any more than the other? Absolutely not. I have to admit that there were times when I knew another baby was on the way, and I would wonder how I could possibly love a new baby as much as I already loved the ones I had. I was overjoyed to find that God multiplies love instead of dividing it.
I’ve found that the way a parent and child show love to one another is not much different than the way we show our love for God. Are there days when God likes the actions of some of us a little better than the others? I’m sure. Does He love one of us any more than the others? Absolutely not. Some of us love God from a distance. He’s cool, but we don’t want it forced on us and need our own space. We might recognize God as our creator, but church and praying makes us feel uncomfortable. So maybe we offer gratitude for what He’s given us, but feel closer to God out on a fishing boat than we do inside the walls of a church.
Some of us might go to church when we can, pray when we feel the desire to, and give God credit for every good thing. We pray for our friends, but maybe we prefer to do it in private.
Some of us sing praise music, try not to ever miss church, attend small groups, and are quick to pray out loud for others. We can’t wait to help others feel as in love with God as we are.
None of those ways are wrong. God is our father, and He loves us all fiercely. He just doesn’t express His love for us in the same ways because He knows we are not all ready to receive it in the same way. But rest assured, no matter how jumbled and messed up we think our prayers might be, He hears them the same. They don’t have to be poetic and full of wisdom. They just need to be sincere. Just talk to God like a friend. He knows.
Have a blessed week, friends!