"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you!" --Isaiah 49:15
I reflected on this verse last weekend, and was reminded yet again of all the ways motherhood has helped me understand God's parental love. As Isaiah says, God's love and faithfulness is even beyond what an earthy parent feels for his or her child. When Kate was just a few months old, I wrote about the things I'd learned about God from motherhood already, and now that she's in an entirely different stage of development (hello demanding and impatient toddlerdom!) I'm learning about this divine love in new ways.
The most profound of these is something that I absolutely love about this stage of her development: When she's upset--even when she's upset with me--she runs to me for comfort. She's yanking on the refrigerator door handle, begging for me to open it so she can pull the carton of strawberries down or eat grapes straight out of the bag before I can even wash them. I say "no, you've had enough of a snack already." Her face crumples and she lets out a pathetic wail. I crouch down, and she runs to me and throws her arms around my neck, burying her despair in my shoulder. She's mad at me--but she knows where the comfort is.
I love the thought that even when we are upset, angry at life--at God--we can take it straight to him. Being mad at God doesn't mean we have to run away. We can be angry and seek comfort at the same time.
The spiritual director leading our retreat urged me also to reflect on the notion of God "delighting" in me. I struggle with pride even as I strive for humility, and often settle for self-flagellation. It was a difficult excercise for me to think of God delighting in my face. I mugged at the sky, teasing the God who supposedly loves to gaze at my face. I thought, however, of the way I glance during the workday at one of the many framed pictures of Kate on my desk. I'll stop, pick up the frame, and just stare at her, delighting in her sweet face. Could God see me the same way?
I love this divine sort of SAT equation. God : Me :: Me : Kate
(If you're rusty on your standardized test jargon, that's "God is to me as I am to Kate.")
On a test question, one of those items would be blank. "A is to B as B is to ____." It's strange to say, but it seems that God is the blank here. God is beyond our comprehension, and while we read and hear about the magnitude of God's love for us, it is hard to grasp. But I know how much I love Kate, and I cherish the glimpse that relationship gives of how much God loves me. It's not a perfect equation, because even I will fail. Even the mother who bears a child can "forget" or abandon her offspring. But it offers some small glimpse, some way of comprehending what an infinite, ever-loving God might feel for me. And you.