How Parenting Helps Me Know God

One day I was feeding my 3-month-old baby a bottle. He was hungry, and he was downing it. I stopped him halfway through to burp him because he has a tendency to get gassy. Like, screaming in pain, gassy. When I started burping him he immediately started screaming bloody murder. So being the weirdo that I am, I started narrating his thoughts in the singsong baby voice that I’m sure accurately represents what is going on in his head.

“Mother, how could you starve me this way? Why do you hate me so? You’re never going to feed me again! How could you just leave me here to starve to death!”

Trust me, it was hilarious. No really, it was. Then I suddenly had a profound thought. That is pretty much how we feel in relationship to God when we don’t get exactly what we want, exactly when we want it.

“Why me? How could God let this happen? Is this some cruel joke? God must hate me!”

I’ve had all of those thoughts and then some, but I really do know that God loves me, and I know that He helps me. So why doesn’t He always give me what I want?

Our relationship with God has many facets, and there are many scriptures that are seemingly contradictory, like “God is love” and “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people” but I really think they are much easier to understand if we think of Him as our literal FATHER in Heaven and compare that relationship to our relationship with our own children.

The scriptures tell us that God is our Father, that we are His children, and there are multiple examples in the scriptures describing this relationship in detail. One of my favorites is found three separate places in the scriptures. It’s in the Bible in Luke 11:11 and Matthew 7:9 and in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 14:9. In Luke 11:9-13 (because I like this whole section so much) it says:

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

This scripture gives me chills! The relatable comparison to the actual parent-child relationship helps me understand this concept so much more than if God had just said, “if you want something: ask” and left it at that. I would have thought (and sometimes still do), “Yeah, well I can ask, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get what I want so what’s the point of even asking?” And while this is kind of true, it’s more intricate than that.

Think of your own children (real or imagined). Don’t you just have the most burning desire to give them the world? How often do you sacrifice your own comfort/happiness/sleep/money so they can be happy? How often do you eat the crust of their sandwiches, change their diapers and clean their vomit in the middle of the night? The sacrifices we make, I believe, are surpassed only by the Savior Himself and the sacrifice He made for us.

Don’t get me wrong, His sacrifice INFINITELY surpasses our own. But ours is pretty dang big in our own individual sphere of influence. I know I have sacrificed, just about to my breaking point, many times for my kids and I bet you have (or would) as well. Again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves or that we should spoil our kids rotten. I mean, I’m writing this sitting alone in a Starbucks having a much-needed break from those adorable little cherubs that I adore so much. I even had to sidestep the subject of where I was going tonight to sugar-coat the fact that I needed to get the heck away from the incessant whining, crying, yelling and general neediness. I may be a mother, but I’m still human.

Which brings me back to Luke 11. Despite being “evil” (read: mortal/flawed/sinful/sick/tired/sickandtired/bored/stressed/anxious/depressed/lazy) we try our darndest to give our kids “good gifts.” Not lame gifts. Not a stone instead of bread (I mean, who mocks their child’s hunger like that?). So since God is perfect, wouldn’t His gifts to us, His children, be that much more amazing? Of course! But like with our children, everything we ask for is not necessarily in our best interest. “No you cannot have JUST cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” But we still strive to make them happy by giving them things they like. “Eat your carrots and THEN you can have a cookie.” We even try to ease the burden of the trials as much as we can. “Here’s some ranch for your carrots.” But we still require things of them. “No, licking the ranch off the carrot doesn’t count. You must chew AND swallow THREE WHOLE (baby) carrots to get a cookie.”

I think it’s no mistake that Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to be parents ourselves because it helps us understand Him better, and understand our relationship to him. Whether or not we have a good earthly father, we’ll always be able to rely on God, because he truly is our Father in Heaven.

*originally published on Simplify Mommyhood

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