“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” - John 15:9-14
Something happens the day your baby is put in your arms for the first time. It may be a matter of simple logistics. Since your hands are full of new life, you’ve got to let go of some other things, including your self-centeredness. That is, in the new family galaxy, the baby assumes your role in the center, and all of a sudden you find your life revolving around his or her or their needs. It’s been thirty-one years since that first baby came on the scene in our home, and I’m still in orbit.
You see, almost overnight, children seem to teach us the basics of agape-like love. Sometime between the baby’s very first 3 AM feeding and the day that shriveled umbilical stump falls off, we find ourselves consumed by a love that is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. It is unconditional, it is intentional, and it is sacrificial; it virtually overflows from a boundless source in the center of our hearts. We would do anything, or so it would seem, for that infant so fearfully and wonderfully crafted in the image of God . . . a masterpiece bearing His very fingerprints.
Our infinite love for our child plays out in ways large and small, trivial and magnanimous. When it comes to food, we mothers always eat the smallest, most bruised, most burned, ugliest piece of whatever it is, don’t we? We make taxi runs ‘round the clock even when our hormones are staging an uprising, we’re recovering from the stomach flu, and it’s been snowing for the last two days. We delay the bathroom renovation we’ve been planning foreevvvver so we can pay for braces, or band instruments, or dance lessons or all of the above. We volunteer to help with the Scout sleepover even though our roots are showing, we have tickets to the Fabulous Fox, and we’ve got a yard sale in the morning. Without a moment’s hesitation, we would donate blood, or bone marrow, or our kidney to save our child. Some mothers would go even farther as evidenced by the following excerpt from Love Is a Costly Thing by Dick Hills:
She was lying on the ground. In her arms she held a tiny baby girl. As I put a cooked sweet potato into her outstretched hand, I wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. The sweet potato could help so little -- but it was all I had.
Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby's mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I later learned that during the night the mother's heart stopped, but her little girl lived.
Laying down one’s life for another! Yes, as mothers, God blessed us with a passionate, deep-seated, unconditional, self-sacrificing love for our children. What a joy it is to yield to and wield that powerful gift, regardless of what it costs us in terms of time, money, sleep, elbow grease, or gray hair! A by-product of loving our children (and our husbands) in this way is that we learn to extend agape love to others as Christ commanded us in John 15. In time, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can love neighbors, even enemies, in a sacrificial way . . . putting them before ourselves!
Moms, we love because He first loved us. God loved us so much, as a matter of fact, that He “spared not His own Son” to love us, and teach us to love as He does. May it be so!