“I want you to show meeeee!”

In the 1980s, I was a teenager trying to figure out life and love.  This song from Foreigner was an anthem for me and many of my friends. We wanted to fall in love and live out the ending of our favorite John Hughes movie where the wallflower girl gets the popular guy. We wanted to experience love.

The only problem was, we didn’t really know what love was.  In our minds, love was soft-focus romance with fireworks and drama.  We were young and that’s all we knew. We believed what the movies told us about love. But we were wrong.

It was that false idea of love that made it hard for me to understand God’s love for me.  The love I imagined wasn’t a selfless sacrificial love. It was a self centered all consuming obsessive love. Nothing like the love that God has for us.

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I started to understand God’s love for us.  I’ve often said that being a parent is a lot like having your heart walk around outside of your body.  Suddenly you’re vulnerable.  Everything that happens to your children, all the pains and the joys that happen to your child affect you as if they’re happening to you directly but with an added feeling of helplessness. The pain I feel when my children hurt must pale in comparison to the pain God feels when we hurt.  And in a similar way, God might feel helpless too not because He’s unable to help but because He’s waiting for us to let Him.

The things we do for our children, you know, the not-so-glamorous things like changing diapers, driving carpools, emergency room visits in the middle of the night, and soothing broken hearts, those things are small sacrifices in comparison to what God has done for us but they help us to understand in a small way the way God loves us.

But I think the most important thing I’ve learned about God’s love from being a parent is that no matter what, I will always love my children. I may not like what they do or how they act but that will NEVER stop me from loving them.  That’s how God loves us-unconditionally. Forever and always.

This story was written by Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis. It was originally published in January 2017 on catholicmom.com, and was republished in the June 2017 Edition of The St. Francis Grapevine, our parish newsletter.