Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just being born

A while ago, I had a counseling session with a couple that made me evaluate myself. That happens a lot, you know. I think a good session works both ways, shaping the client and shaping the therapist. That is a good thing.

Anyhow, this client couple was in my office for a variety of reasons: marriage, communication, anger, infidelity, family of origin issues... you name it. Over the course of the hour, one phrase that jumped out at me was, "All I ever wanted to do was make my dad happy. Man, how I tried." I asked, "Did it ever work? Did you ever manage to please him?" The client thought about it and responded, "Well, he came to visit a few years ago and I think he was really pleased with what I've done." I may be reading too much into that reply, but what I *didn't* hear was very interesting to me. The client didn't say, 'My dad was proud of who I am' or 'He told me that he loved me'. He said that the Dad was pleased with what was done... What does it say about a person's identity to feel that one has to earn a parent's love? Part of me felt that the dynamic was all wrong. Perhaps that was just my adult sensibilities.

When I got home that night, all three of my kids attacked me when I got in the door. I had to beg them to quit hugging on me so I could set my things down and hug them properly. After bathtime, Ethan came running and stood on my lap (that is right, he was standing on my thighs). I made him sit down and said, "Ethan, I have a serious question for you. I want to know what you think you have to *do* in order for me to love you. (I put special verbal emphasis on the word DO)" Ethan thought about it for a minute and said, "Nothing. Just be born, I guess."

I don't know why any parent would want things to be otherwise. I'm glad that even at age 6, Ethan knows that he doesn't have to do anything to earn my love. He knows that I love him just because he is. I may get angry, I might be disappointed by his behavior or choices, but he doesn't have to *do* anything to make me love him and he is secure knowing that no matter what he does, he can't make me *not* love him. The same goes with Mary Hannah and Eleanor.

I believe that this is a glimpse into God's point of view that he sometimes blesses parents with: the gift of reminding us that he sees us much the same way we see our children. God loves us because we are his. Not only that, but he loves us much more than we can ever love our children. We had a role in creating our children, but God individually created each of us. Even more than that, he redeemed us, adopted us, sanctified us and restored us into relationship with him. We are greatly loved by our Eternal Father. How much more reason do we need to love others because they are loved by God just the same?