Confession: I’ve never been much of a “baby person.”
In fact, when I was pregnant with my first child 24 years ago, I secretly wished I was pregnant with puppies. Naturally I felt guilty for even thinking this, but I’d always felt more love for puppies than babies.
But something supernatural happened the moment my daughter was born: I was flooded with a love for her that was so utterly overwhelming it took my breath away. It baffled me how instantly and massively I could love this tiny human who didn’t even know me.
I felt like my heart now existed outside of my body—raw and pulsing and vulnerable—and I was thrilled and terrified. I knew at that moment I’d do anything in the world to take care of her.
Because she was mine.
The first time in my life I finally understood God’s love was when my daughter was born
That day was the first time in my life I finally grasped the concept of unconditional love—and realized this was the kind of love that God had for me.
I’d grown up in church and knew this truth with my head, but not with my heart. During my young adult years, I’d fallen away from God, keeping my faith tucked in my back pocket as a “safety net” in case I needed it for an emergency.
But in this instant of becoming a mother, I finally embraced the truth that God’s love for me was real—because I suddenly understood what it was like to love a child of my own.
I also realized how much I needed God alongside me, and needed to trust that he had this precious life in his control because I surely couldn’t shoulder this important responsibility alone.
My faith entwined itself with motherhood
Thus began my first steps into a deepening journey of faith entwined with motherhood, which gave me the real-world context to understand God’s crazy, infinite love for his children.
I often thought of God not just as my “co-pilot” but as my “co-parent”—a steady guide and comforter who I could lean on and trust. And there were times (especially in teen years) when parenting was such a painful struggle that I could only survive by surrendering the reigns of control to him and say, “They’re your kids too, God—I trust you’ve got ‘em.”
My role as mother began changing as my kids grew up, and thus my faith changed, too.
As my children grew older, I sensed a shift in my soul. My role as a mother, which had been an incubator for my relationship with God, was changing too. As my kids’ daily dependency started to lessen, my dependency on God through the lens of motherhood changed as well.
The daily mothering duties of herding toddlers and the sweet chaos of elementary-age kids that had come to an end left a nostalgic hole in parts of my day. Instead of praying for a few moments to use the bathroom in peace, I found myself standing on the other side of closed bedroom and bathroom doors wondering why my teenagers would hide out for hours. Instead of the incessant stream of questions and commentary from my children, I found myself longing for a meaningful conversation beyond mono-syllable responses and eye-rolls.
And then, last fall as my last child headed off to college, I found myself all alone in my too-quiet, too-clean house.
Gone were the daily texts of “What’s for dinner?” Gone were 6 giant pairs of sneakers by the front door, indicating a herd of teenagers lounging in the family room. Gone were the seasons of soccer and baseball dominated by weekly games and weekend-long tournaments. Gone was the simple nightly ritual of pausing by each kid’s room to pop in and kiss them goodnight.
The “gone-ness” of these things was a painful transition in parenthood. But as my heart ached with love and longing to hold onto my kids, I discovered yet another dimension of God’s love because of this new “letting go” season of motherhood.
Discovering a new dimension of God’s love through letting go
Just like the first time I held my daughter and experienced unconditional love, letting her go helped me experience the deepest yearning my heart had ever known. My kids were launching into the world on their own as bold, brave, independent young adults, but nothing can separate them from my love, or the desire to remain connected in relationship with them.
And this helped me understand God’s love even more.
God yearns for us just like we yearn for our kids
We are all God’s children. He lets us go about our lives, making mistakes and messing things up, and never stops loving us.
But He also yearns for us.
He yearns for the intimacy of a daily relationship, and craves for our time in our too-busy schedules. And He loves us so much that he sacrificed His own son so we can be with Him for eternity. Nothing can separate us from God’s love—not even death!
God created us. He knows us. He claims us. He wants us. He pursues us.
We are his. And we are loved.
Digging Deeper: February Parent Devotion
Journal prompt: Ask Jesus: If you were to send me a letter with special words for me, what would it say?
Connection: Write the names of your children on a piece of paper and beneath each name, write a list of the unique things you love and cherish about them. You can also add some words from their Heavenly Father and include some simple scripture from the above verses (or from the many other verses on God’s love!). Now put these words into a card and send it to them!
Kami Gilmour is the mom of five teen and young adult kids. She and her husband, Tim, are enjoying their new role as empty nesters and replacing the chaos of kids by adopting rescue dogs. Kami is the parent champion and a mission trip leader for Group Mission trips, and she’s also the author of a best-selling devotional book for parents that chronicles her imperfect journey of parenting in this season of letting go: Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent’s Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly.