“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
1 John 3:1-3
I love the zoo. Like, love, love the zoo. When Rich and I were first dating, we would take regular trips to the Bronx Zoo. It stirs something in my heart to watch the beauty of creation, in all of it’s diversity and variety. It’s hard to explain, but for me, the zoo affirms that there is a God- that someone created all of this, and that He made us, as his children, to appreciate it in all of it’s glorious beauty because of his deep love for us, or else, there would be no need for vibrant peacock feathers. Orange butterfly wings. A Leopard’s spots.
Two nights ago, Ellie slept terribly. She woke at 2:45, screaming. When I walked into her room, she giggled to assure me that she was just trying to get my attention. This went on for hours, until we were both so exhausted, we crashed. It was 5:30. This little interlude caused Rich to sleep through his alarm. Again. So we, as a little family, found ourselves home at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, groggy, grumpy and in desperate need of more than just coffee.
We were sitting, lethargic on the couch watching Ellie dismember an entire tissue box when Rich looked at me and whispered excitedly, “Let’s take her to the zoo.”
Ellie loves animals, and had not yet been to the zoo. We rushed around grabbing snacks and sweatshirts, bottles and extra socks (she always pulls them off), and threw our weary selves into the car.
Being a parent has been the biggest teaching tool in my life in which God reminds me of who I am. Though Ellie kept me up all night, with no reason that demanded immediate attention- though she laughed at my tired pleas to go to sleep, clung to me desperately when I tried to lay her down, clapped her hands and stomped her feet when my face reappeared in her doorway yet again, my heart still yearned for her to see something beautiful. To enjoy the things I enjoy. For her to know how deep my love runs for her. I knew she would love the zoo just as much as I do, and though she misbehaved terribly, knowingly, and sometimes, manipulatively, the desire of my heart was for her to know joy. Because, when it comes down to it, she’s my child. Biologically, legally, physically and spiritually, she’s mine 100%. As Tim Keller so often reminds me, you can’t be someone’s child 50% of the time- you either are, or you aren’t. There’s nothing you can do to change your DNA or your legal standing.
I’m God’s child, 100% of the time. No matter how often I misbehave, take advantage of or attempt to manipulate him, his heart never changes for me. It never makes me any less his child anymore than Ellie’s antics make her any less mine. Our behavior doesn’t dictate our identity. A misbehaving child is still someone’s child.
Walking around the zoo with my family, listening to my little one say,
” OOOOOOHHHHHH,” and, “Wow!” every time she saw a different animal brought tears to my eyes. She’s my child. No matter how she behaves, my spirit jumps when she experiences joy. Knowing that God’s heart does the same for me made not sleeping the night before more than manageable.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!!!”
So often we forget who we are. I’m going to try not to. It’s the only thing that really matters.