The answer to this question is; they can’t. And the subject about which this question refers is this:
How can our kids possibly know how much we love them?
It is a rule of nature I think, and by design. The parent always loves the child more that the child is capable of loving the parent. And this is as it should be. But the parent also loves to this extreme in the full knowledge that in time, the circle may well be complete, and as we have loved our child, so too will they in turn love their own. We are, in this kind of love, helpless. We love as we do no matter the pain, or the cost.
Children, then, cannot reasonably know the depths with which we love them. That’s just basic. Not to worry though, their time to love as we have will come. Someday. And guess who shall serve as their model?
Yes, it is us.
So we love our children with a sort of abandon; expecting no reciprocity, though when it comes it’s sure nice! We love without condition; though when our love is responded to by reciprocal acts of compassion and thoughtfulness, our hearts swell with a quiet joy. When that love which we have helped plant in these, the souls of our children, takes root and flourishes, we rejoice. For where love reigns, so does God. And in that love is where we’ve hoped our children sense and grasp their being.
In this scenario however, the mature love emanates from we parents. And why not; for we have endured the endless frustrations and exasperations that those tasked with nurturing embryonic love are privileged to witness.
Still, we parents know that we can only love as we have ourselves been loved. And the exact same limitless, depthless, excruciating love given to us, is precisely what we seek to render back to our children. They may not fully know this yet; in time they will.
To me, this gives we parents a particularly ideal place from which to ponder God’s love for all of us; his creation. For He too loves with an abandon and to an extreme that perhaps only a parent can comprehend. We love because we were thus first loved. And the entire blessed cascade of love begins with God. Running down in torrents; first, over us, then in and through us, over our children. And it’s an enormous blessing to be part of that soothing stream.
No, our children can not possibly know how much we love them…
… Until they have their own.
We love them just the same; even as our Christ has loved us.
Hope you all have a blessed and wonderful Christmas (with your own children!) as we reflect on the wonder of God’s Gift to us this season...