Throughout my years as a mother, I filled my journals with pleas to God for help raising my seven children. Old photos take me back to those moments of prayer and struggle when the future seemed so dang far away and the rewards seemed few.
But that was then, and this is now. I feel soooo rewarded after enduring so many trials and heartaches for these amazing humans.
I just wish I could inject parents with hope about how God takes pleasure in the sacrifices you make for your kids because you are making them for him.
Jesus affirms this in Matthew 10.32, and I love The Message version:
This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.
Taking care of kids – especially babies and toddlers – is just this sort of contradiction. On one hand, it’s large and hugely important work, and we know it deep down. On the other hand, it’s tiny acts of giving that drain us deep down. It’s incredibly overwhelming or crazy boring. It’s dirty diapers, whining, and reading the same books over and over.
It’s the opposite of whatever satisfaction we experience through career and socializing with adults. And that is hard for us. We are trained to value what is glamorous and open for public praise. It’s also hard because we are sinners and naturally selfish. Helping the helpless doesn’t come with earthly trophies.
That’s why we must see with a heavenly lens. To be an apprentice of Christ is to realize his day was similar to that of a typical parent: meeting basic needs, while teaching, correcting, and comforting crying, moody, sinful, people.
Few things are more humbling for adults than caring for children, and that’s precisely why God call us to do it. We need to care for children in order to realize true greatness and become mature Christians. I can certainly attest to the ways raising my kids brought me closer to God, equipped me for my career, and made me a better human. Being a parent is being an apprentice of Christ.
So take heart! God sees and values every minute you spend pouring yourself into children and pouring water into sippy cups. Even if it is someone else’s children you serve as a teacher, or child care provider, or a grandma. You are doing God’s work and fulfilling his call to love your neighbor.
So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf[a] is welcoming me…“Be careful. Don’t think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my Father in heaven.