Meet a Motherly God
I’m reading a book called God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience by Jeffrey Long, M.D. I tend to be a believer, since science has not caught up with Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) yet and there is no conclusive materialist evidence for why they happen. The NDEs often change people; that much is undeniable.
And, though the gender of God is variable in people’s NDEs, the most salient characteristics of God seem motherly. In fact, the understanding I’ve gained of God through reading about NDEs can inform my life as a mother, and can help all of us parent better. So, what can we learn from Mother God from the people who have had NDEs, and how does that translate to how we parent?
Mother God Loves
The first thing we can learn is that She is love. When people go to heaven in their NDE, that’s what they often first realize: God loves me unconditionally. One says, “I have never felt loved by someone on this earth the way I felt loved by this being,” and another reports, “I felt someone was carrying me very lovingly–an unconditional love.”
Is this what our children know about us? Do they get that we love them and understand them, and accept them as they are? Is this what my kids feel about me?
When my oldest son was about 5, he reported to us, “You don’t love me like you did when I was first born.” And he was right. As he grew, love became subtly more conditional and based on his behavior, less and less freely given.
The priority of showing love to our children seems obvious, but it counters the popular wisdom about kids. We’re told, and often believe, that the most pressing thing they need from parents is discipline. They need not to be one of those kids that cause the problems.
But it’s acceptance, understanding, love and mentoring that help children grow up well. It’s not time-outs or losing video game time or even feeling cold at school because she forgot her jacket–again.
One NDEer recalls, “I understood the major superior being of love to be God, and I sensed God’s love for me and for all….I sensed that we are all on a path to that love and to God.”
Parents are on the path to learn how to turn our hearts to our own children (Mal. 4:6; Luke 1:17), to see from their perspective, to have empathy, and then to gently help them grow into all they can become. We are not on a path to learn to control their behavior.
She Doesn’t Condemn
The second helpful parenting wisdom I learned from NDEers is that God is fundamentally forgiveness. She doesn’t judge or condemn us. We judge ourselves. Another NDEer says, “The Light also knows everything that I’ve ever done and will do but loves me unconditionally….There is no fear, no judgment, punishment, blame, or shame. No ledger of good and bad deeds. Only warmth, peace, joy, happiness, forgiveness, and love in the Light.”
Most say they do review their lives with God, but God doesn’t stand beside them with condemnation. Instead, others’ perspectives become more obvious than they were, such as how someone we hurt felt when we hurt them.
How painful will it be to feel the exact emotions our kids felt when we punished them or threatened them or sent them to their rooms? And to realize they learned nothing but to mistrust us and to put up barriers between themselves and us? Feeling those feelings now through empathy, and remembering our own most painful moments as children, may help us stop hurtful acts that we normalized as child discipline.
Quantum Energy Requires Respect
The third NDEer-truth we can apply to parenting is that we are all made of the same stuff, all connected in love and sibling-hood. As one NDEer says, “I also had this knowing that the essence or spark of the Highest is in everything–every mineral, vegetable, animal, and human.”
For parents, that means we should see our children as fellow human beings first, with differing needs based on development. But basically deserving all the respect (if not freedom) we would give an adult friend.
We wouldn’t say to our BFF in the typical nasty tone we reserve for our kids, “How many times do I have to tell you, take your shoes off at the door?” No way. We’d have no more BFF.
Our kids feel the same way, but they can’t get rid of us. They’re powerless when it comes to enduring disrespect from us. And eventually, they come to feel, deep down, that they are bad. That they deserve our negative voice tones and many corrections throughout the day.
And later, as teens, they realize that we’re the ones at fault and get angry and shut down. We start to lose them, sometimes permanently. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Made in Her Image
When we want to become better parents, we can draw our inspiration from Mother God. She loves us (John 3:16), She doesn’t condemn us (John 3:17), and She sees our value and respects us (Gen. 1:31; John 10:34), no matter our age.
She’s the Mother we always wanted. And, made in Her image, we can become more and more like Her.