Nobody warned me what becoming a mother for the first time would be like. Nobody prepared me for the complete shattering and remaking of my heart that would take place. Nobody revealed ahead of time how completely over the moon exhausted with emotion I would be. Like those scenes in movies that come out of nowhere when somebody is walking across the street and suddently gets run over by a bus, motherhood hit me hard. I didn't know the capacity of my heart until that moment when my little girl was placed in my arms. If someone had tried to describe it to me, they never would have succeeded. This marvelous teeny tiny gift of a person captured me with her every yawn and hiccup.
A few weeks into motherhood, still overwhelmed yet so happy in love, a surprising and almost devastating thought occurred to me. My hopes and dreams were wrapped up in raising this precious gift to love Jesus. But what if some day she didn't? What if she grew up, chose a different path, rejected the God I desperately loved and who gave her to me? What if she rejected me as well? I'd heard it said, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." But I knew from my seminary days that the statement was a principle, not a promise. And that while I might do everything in my power to show her the way to Christ, she may still choose to reject my faith or never make it her own.
That's when I made a clear decision. I would love this child UNCONDITIONALLY throughout her entire life. Through the highs and lows, through temper tantrums, sleepless nights, middle school attitudes, and teenage drama, through disappointments and hardships. Loving unconditionally wouldn't mean that I would not discipline her. I knew there would be plenty of opportunities for training along the way. Unconditional love meant that I would always love her for her, and not for how she treated or felt about me or the God I fervently hoped to introduce her to one day. Today, my little baby girl is almost 17. She's loving Jesus and she's pretty okay with me too most of the time. Have I always been the perfect mom, no. Has she always been the perfect daughter? While I'd love to say yes, growing up requires some shaping along the way. But this solid base of commitment to unconditional love has been key to our relationship, and so necessary to passing on the heart of Jesus to all of my children. My baby girl is in the process of becoming an independent adult. We're not perfect, but we're off to a good start. I'll always love you Anna!