Finding the feminine image of God in the Bible and in women.

Archive Tag:Unconditional love

The Perspectives of Love

Marshall flopped on the floor of the psychologist’s office, playing with one of those sensory pin toys that make the shape of your hand. He was explaining to her why he hates people: “They have destroyed so many animal habitats.” She nodded—she loves animals, too—and asked, “Is there any one you don’t hate?”

Marshall then climbed up into my lap, all 83 pounds, 4 and a half feet and I gave him a long hug. I was the Good Mama.

But at the end of the session, he accidentally hit his head on the side of the door. Then he came back into the room and hit me, with threats quoted directly from the older girl who bullied him.

I try to stay half in denial about Marshall’s new self, affected by trauma. The other half of me, at least, has to enter his world and see what he sees. And occasionally kick a demon out.

This is the Mama-Jesus-Task—walking scary roads together, never abandoning, always beckoning.

The Reign of God Starts with our Parenting

Jesus said John the Baptist was “the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). The second Elijah, John, was to “turn the hearts of the parents to their children” (Mal. 4:5,6; Luke 1:17).

Repentance and the reign of God is at least partly about children, in their worst moments, the times we most want to turn away or to threaten to withdraw our love. To really repent is to love our children with open hearts even when we’re in pain, and to stop the control-through-fear, the manipulation, the verbal or physical abuse. It’s to choose to see from our children’s perspective.

I’ve never heard a sermon on this verse, yet if John was the greatest human in history (Matt. 11:11), in Jesus’ estimation, then we need to listen. I need to listen.

There are so many components to love, like a big Lego heart. The funny thing is, I’m not aware of having learned love from God, like the part of love that sees from the other person’s perspective.

Yet I believe Mother God sees life through my eyes; I think Mother God understands me. This is where I feel safe. If I thought Mother God would only argue with me about anything I said, I would never speak.

Arguing is the easy place to parent from. I have nearly reduced my interactions with Marshall to asking him to get off the computer so he can interact with us. He almost always say, “No.” The computer is now his friend, his safe place. I see it as an enemy.

The only thing that will put the pieces of our lives together is love, which will mean going deeper and deeper into his world and helping him sort it out together. That means I quit trying to control him and see what is important to him and why.

The Perspective of Grace

Yesterday, Joel had a moment of grace for Marshall, one I usually don’t. Marshall has taken to walking away from the house lately when he feels rejected. He and Joel were both in bare feet. Joel followed him down the street and said, “Can I come with you?”

Marshall looked back gratefully and said, “Yes,” and then began to tell Joel what a bad parent he was.

But by the time I saw them, outside, they were walking together toward home, smiling, side by side.

This is the metaphor for our parenting of our wounded Asper-boy. Don’t try to get him to change; go with him into his own choices and back out again. It is the safety of unconditional love that changes us.

This is also a metaphor for Mother God’s parenting. She doesn’t shout stern commands to come home; she follows us where we choose.

She never leaves no matter where we choose to go—the office, the pub, the bus stop or the Internet. And she loves us unrelentingly, loves us all the way home.

Mother God, My BFF

Raising Myself

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.