THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF GOD
By: Debbie Barnes
Motherhood looks different for everyone. Different seasons, different roles, difficult seasons, difficult roles, less challenging seasons, less challenging roles…
Let me start at the beginning of motherhood for me. Athol and I had tried to fall pregnant for many years, and this was a difficult and painful season for both of us. Then the Lord blessed us with 2 children through adoption, and with Christie, we were literally thrust into parenthood overnight!
In the business of trying to be the perfect wife and mother, of trying to prove that I had this motherhood thing under control, I began to neglect my personal walk with the Lord. I was so consumed with the gift of the child, that I neglected the giver of the child, the giver of that life itself. I was looking for something, yearning for something in my relationship with my children. And no matter how hard I tried, that sense of complete and utter fulfillment was always just beyond my reach. I didn’t understand it. And then one morning it dawned on me. Motherhood is completely selfless. My children were not there to meet my needs, I was there to meet theirs.
This brings me to my first point:
- God is enough, He is sufficient to meet all my needs. (Philippians 4:19)
God was there to meet my needs, and I had walked away from Him. It was only after I rekindled my relationship with the Lord that I found that true fulfillment.
And only once I found all I needed in my relationship with God did I stop looking for God in my relationship with my children! How liberating!
Only then did I find my joy in motherhood and could enjoy my children for who they were. This not only applies to motherhood, but to all relationships, whether it be between a husband and wife, siblings, other family members and friends. It is only once you find everything you need in your relationship with God that will you stop looking for God in all your relationships with others.
2) God’s love is unconditional. (1 John 4: 19 and Ephesians 3: 17-19).
As most of you know, Athol and I became licensed foster parents in 2016, and this opened our eyes to a whole new world. With Joshie’s autism and other special needs, we feel that the Lord has equipped us and called us to fostering children with autism and other special needs.
Now it’s easy to love your own children but not so easy to love someone else’s, especially when they come from a background of trauma, abuse, and neglect. BUT GOD! He gives us a supernatural love for every child that comes into our home. He gives us the ability to put aside the bruises from kicking, biting, scratching, screaming etc., and the ability to tuck this child into bed, kiss him or her on the cheek, and say “I love you.” To see each child through His lens, as His beautiful creation.
I get really frustrated when I share that I am a foster mom, and people respond with “Oh, I could never do that, I would become too attached.” Does that mean they assume that I don’t get attached? If, as a foster parent, you don’t get attached, then there is something seriously wrong. When we have a foster child in our home, we love them as deeply as our own children, with the supernatural love that comes from the Father Himself.
How much does God love us? So much so that he gave us His only begotten Son so that we may enjoy an eternity with Him if we believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.
3) God equips us when He calls us.
When God calls you, He will equip and prepare you to effectively complete that which He is calling you to do. He knows us and will use everything about us to bring Glory to his name. ( see Hebrews 13: 21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The first day of our first foster placement did not go well. We were this child’s 4th foster home in 6 weeks, and he was severely autistic, non-verbal, and aggressive. By that evening, I was full of bruises and bite marks. I remember crying after getting everyone in bed that night, and Athol put his arms around me and kept saying that things would get better. I turned to Athol and remember saying, ” I’m not crying for me, I’m crying for him. How can we expect him to change when no-one is prepared to invest in his life or give him the tools to change?”
We decided that night to stand in the gap for this child, to fight for him and his needs, just as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. Athol and I went to weekly therapy with him, and reinforced positive behavior daily. Slowly but surely, we started to notice change. He didn’t like being touched, but by the end of his time with us before he was reunified with his biological mom, he was crawling onto my lap, putting my hand on top of his head to ruffle his hair, and putting my hand on his back for me to tickle his back whenever he could. Christie was even able to teach him to say, “I love you”. His aggressive behavior decreased the more he saw us as a family model loving behavior toward one another and underwent a total transformation as he started to mimic the same loving behavior at home and at school.
4) It’s not about us.
Everything we do should point right back to Jesus and glorify the Father. I have not shared these stories with you to get a pat on the back. I share them because I am nothing without God. He doesn’t need me, yet I get to walk with Him and follow His leading every day. And every time I am with Him, He fills me and equips me for the day ahead. He is the source of the unconditional love I can pour out daily, and He can do the same for you.
Just as being a mother and foster mom is not about me, it’s about my children, and it’s my relationship with the Lord that enables me to pour into my children out of the abundance of love and joy that the Father pours into me through my relationship with Him. So too, Christianity is not about us either. It is about bringing glory to the Father through everything we say and do.