I Never Knew How Much Love I Had… For Myself
While I was pregnant with my first child, I heard this phrase again and again, “You will never know how much love you had in your heart until you have that little baby!” I think it’s a phrase that we are all well aware of, and have maybe even said- about that first baby, or second, or so on…
Once my daughter was born, I loved her a lot, and my husband and I were thrust into our new crazy normal. As the days pressed on, I was well aware I never knew how much love I actually had in my heart, how filling it was, how consuming it was. However, as the days pressed on, I realized that huge, surprising, and all-encompassing new love I saw was not actually for my daughter.. but it was for me.
Never before had I been face to face so clearly with the love of myself than when my daughter woke up screaming after 20 minutes, when all I wanted to do was watch a movie with my husband.
Never before had I realized how much I loved my own comfort, than when I trekked to her room with frustration in the middle of the night because she was getting another tooth; or I angrily asked her, “Why won’t you sleep???”
Never before had I seen so many times in one day how much my own way, my own plans, and my own wishes have control over me than when I’ve been faced with two overtired children.
Never before had I been face to face with the ugliness of selfishness than when my preschooler gets an ouchie, and all I can do is sigh and think about the whining that I’ll “have to listen to” the rest of the day.
The fact that they are my own kids- somebody you ARE supposed to love crazily (and trust me, I do!!)- only makes the guilt and the shame of my complaining and bad attitudes even worse.
How thankful I am that my Heavenly Father does not treat me in this way. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being, rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved…” Oh how thankful I am that God is rich in mercy, and loves us with a great love!
“But God, being, rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead…”
So where do we go? Do we just all collectively decide we as moms fail and thank the Lord He doesn’t? While that’s true, I found even more encouragement in the book of Ephesians… Paul tells the church in Ephesus that he is praying that they know “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places..” (Chapter 1:19-20).
Ephesians 3:17- goes on to say-
“…that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of god. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever Amen.”
The amazing thing is, that God doesn’t just show how much we love ourselves and just leave us there in the depression. No- He shows us a way out, he forgives when we repent, he shows his rich mercy, he works with his immeasurably great power towards us who believe, and he wants to fill us completely up with His love. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” Paul knew to love and actually gain a foothold over that overbearing love of self, we had to acknowledge that it can only be done through God’s power (and realize He’s given that to us!), and that we need to be filled, brimming, overflowing with His love.
So maybe you’re in the same boat with me- maybe your children tend to show you each day again and again how much you struggle with loving yourself. Or maybe you’re seeing your own selfish tendencies in any number of other trials, life situations, or uncertainties. You aren’t alone, we’re all in this mess of self-love, but we do have a hope! Let’s recognize what our hearts want to do, who they want to love- but then let’s repent and remember our God- rich in mercy, with immeasurable power, and unfailing love ready to pour into us. That is the only thing that will give us hope and any kind of change.