Marshall has complained about my parenting lately and I agree. I feel lecture-y too often, like I don’t take time to listen well. So I am re-reading Naomi Aldort’s Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves. Aldort’s thesis is that parents are afraid of loving unconditionally, afraid we will spoil our children, but that it is unconditional love that makes whole children and therefore whole adults.
The first time I read it, I wept my way through the words, and at the end felt like I’d been born again as a parent. I have since written articles on this kind of parenting. Yet, without continual reminders of my own ideals, I go right back to conditional love.
Why God Isn’t My BFF
So, the phrase, “unconditional love” reminds me of Mother God. But most of my life I’ve not known God as Mother, but rather as Someone rather distant. So finding a source for unconditional love hasn’t come naturally. I’ve focused on Jesus, reminding myself that Jesus is, in fact, God, but still with little emotional change when I hear the word “God” or even “the Father.”
The past couple of years I have come up with a guiding phrase for the year every New Year. This year’s was Own Best Friend. I got this idea from an article in O Magazine, by Martha Beck, Ph.D. She talks about having a special scarf or hat to put on to represent yourself as Best Friend, to yourself. You-as-you pour out your heart, and then put on the Best Friend items of clothing to respond. The Best Friend sounds a lot like a very good therapist. She is a good listener, asks good questions, and encourages.
So, I started speaking to myself in that way, especially the encouragement part. I’d think, “What would I want a best friend to say to what I just said to myself?” and then have the BFF voice say it, even if it wasn’t entirely truthful. Something like, “Oh, you’re much too hard on yourself. I do that kind of thing all the time!”
Well, God’s voice and the BFF voice are not the same, or I’d have consulted God instead. The sweet, soothing half-truths that heal me and give me self-esteem again are what I seek though. God doesn’t mince words and God doesn’t need me to “tell Her more” because She’s got the scoop already.
I’m going to have to mull this over. It’s really a trust issue—trusting Mother God to love me, to pour love out on me, to adore me like I adore my kids, on my best days. To think I’m awesome no matter what, like a true BFF.
I go to God for truth, not for unconditional love; and so I’m missing out.
God Is Not a Helicopter Mom, but a Doting One
I’m going to keep calling God, “Mother God” in my prayers and mind, and think about Her as someone who dotes on me, is really always seeking not only my welfare, and that of others, but my happiness. Wow, how different is that!
But Mother God is not your helicopter parent. Despite the truth She’s always ready to give, She is usually pretty hands-off when it comes to obedience. Except for the thing where I never get to brag without immediately being humbled, She lets me do my own thing. I’m free, and that kind of sucks as much as it’s good for growth in all my human gifts.
But within my freedom, I need a close BFF relationship with God. I need Her to let me know I’m okay. I’m enough; and even awesome. Maybe if I can start getting those messages, I can give them more easily and often to my sons.
Marshall is learning that Mother God wants to bless us—with the sun and blue sky after a bleak, grey, rainy, cold Oregon morning. May I learn this more deeply, that these gifts and more are the caress of an ever-loving Mother who delights in us–in me, and my children.