By ANDREA GOEBEL
“I don’t want to take a nap;” my four-year-old resisted as she climbed onto her bed.
“Here goes another nap time,” I thought. “She’s not going to sleep now that she’s upset.”
My daughter had refused to listen when I told her to stop misbehaving before tuck-in time, and I responded by telling her just how bad she was being. Now, she was sulking with sadness; and I was fuming with frustration.
How could I teach her to listen?
As I pulled her beloved blanket over her shoulders, the words tumbled from my mouth.
“I love you even when I’m mad at you.”
As she giggled and hugged me, my mind ran with reactions to our interaction. Did my child truly believe that when she disobeyed, I didn’t love her?
For the next few weeks, she repeated my words back to me, communicating what I was unable to convey before. Even though I may be upset when her attitude causes trouble temporarily, I still love her; and I always will.
As I reflected on the positive shift in my daughter’s demeanor since I said those words, I realized I struggled with similar worries about my relationship with my heavenly Father.
When I sinned, did God stop loving me?
Unable to acknowledge my sinful nature as a human, I feared that God wouldn’t love me unless I stopped sinning; so I convinced myself that if I always obeyed Him, I would become immune to sin and thus prove I was worthy of His love.
Because I was so focused on my own frailty, I was unable to accept that God’s perfect love is greater than all my sins.
Romans 5:8 declares, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
I knew God sent Jesus to die on the cross because He loves us. But I never recognized the reality of the situation. God didn’t require our flawless following so He could show His love for us. He met us as sinners and loved us as sinners, and died for us because we are sinners.
God knows we will never obey Him completely – and He loves us anyway.
Even though I want my children to listen every time I tell them to do something, I know they won’t. They’re human. And even though God wants us to grab His hands and follow every time He leads us down His righteous path, we won’t. We’re human.
When I told my toddler that memorable phrase, I learned how to forgive and love myself and my child for being human. I learned that God’s love for me does not depend on my perfect obedience, and my daughter learned that my love for her does not depend on her flawless behavior, either.
We’re human, we’re sinners – and we’re still God’s children.
He created us, and He died for us – and He loves us all the time.