"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth..."
I've recited the Apostles' Creed many times, and I've addressed God as Father (and Mother), but I didn't truly grasp the meaning of God as my parent until after Julian and Joshua were born. They were only a few days old and I was up in the middle of the night feeding one of them. Though I was groggy and longing for sleep, I felt overcome with a wave of love for the little boy in my arms (and his brother who would soon wake up for his own bottle), and I realized that this is the same love that God has for me, his daughter.
Moments after the boys were born, as I watched their grandparents meet them for the first time, I said that it was crazy how much I already loved them. I hadn't gotten to see their personalities yet. They hadn't done anything to earn my love. I love them simply because they are Joshua David and Julian Daniel Freyer. I love them because they are our sons. That's the kind of love God has for me, for us -- unconditional, all encompassing love. That is crazy.
For me, one of the biggest theological ideas that I have seen as central to the Christian faith is an awareness of God’s action in our lives. Sarah (and I for that matter) got a deeper understanding of who God is and what God is doing with us by experiencing what God was teaching us with our boys. There is a way to parent them that is totally utilitarian, essentially keep them alive until they’re 18, but I hope this level of awareness stays with us throughout their whole lives.
Because we love our boys we take care of them, and sometimes this means we stop them from doing what they want to do. No, Julian, you can't play with the glass nightlight in the electrical outlet. Sorry, Joshua, that cell phone charger is not for chewing on. (What is it with our boys and electricity?) When we stop them from doing these things they can get upset and cry. It breaks my heart to see them cry, but I still stop them because I know my judgement is better than theirs. I know that though they may cry for a minute, if I didn't intervene they could be seriously hurt. Being a parent means providing the best care for my children even if they don't realize it, even if they don't like it. I wonder how many times God has had to stop me from doing something I wanted because it would hurt me.
This is why experiencing God’s action is so critical, because the truth is that we will never fully understand God’s shaping of our path. When I tell Joshua he can’t chew on the iPhone charger, it is usually met with a dumbfounded look of confusion. He has no idea what I’m even saying, but he knows who I am and trusts me when I pick him up and relaxes when we snuggle. Julian is the same way. I think I know a lot about God, but I know God much better when I relax in the sweet embrace of grace. I may not understand why God’s not on board with my plans, but I trust the God who hasn’t let me down yet, who keeps giving me strength, and who keeps teaching us lessons through these beautiful boys in our lives day after day after day.