Thanks to the movie Tangled, on any given night a bedtime hug with my sweet eight-year-old girl may end like this:
“I love you.”
“I love you more!”
“I love you most!!!”
We fight to be the one who is the “most” lover. In a mad rush to declare her undying love, my daughter will usually speak loudly over top of me with magic phrases designed to lock in her superior loving skills. Something like “I love you 100,000 times plus infinity plus beyond plus for ever and ever!” And she will continue to shout such phrases until I give up, laughing.
I usually let her win that war of words. However, I always remind her that mothers love their children more than they could ever possibly understand. Her affection for me seems to wane and wax with the food I feed her, how early I wake her up, if I take her shopping for a toy or how much TV she can watch. On the other hand, as a parent I willingly, knowingly gave up an entire way of life for her. Her very existence limits the money I can spend on myself, where and if I can travel, how much time I have to make friends, even the kind of house I have and how I furnish it. I chose this sacrifice and I would gladly make it again, but it’s the kind of sacrifice she couldn’t possibly comprehend that demonstrates my love.
Having children is an excellent glimpse into the mother heart of God. Rachel Held Evans wonderfully phrases it like this “…if three weeks of motherhood offer but a glint of the Ultimate Love coursing through the universe, then my heart could never bear it full force.”
God loves me in ways I couldn’t possibly comprehend; His sacrifice of love is infinitely greater than my own. His patience, His kindness, His generosity and His forgiveness are deeper and richer than I can imagine. When I yell at my children because I am tired or hungry, I think of my Father who is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (Psalm 145:8). When I am unmoved and impatient with my children because they’ve hurt themselves doing something I’ve asked them a thousand times not to do, I think of my Father who is gracious and compassionate (Ps 103:8). When I have my daughter in my arms, snuggling under a blanket watching the rain come down outside, bursting with love for this precious life I hold, I think of my Father, whose love for me is so proportionally higher and deeper and wider than mine (Ephesians 3:17) that I am greatly humbled. In the end, it is God alone who is able to truly say “I love you most.”