You hear all these stories about fathers taking their newly born children in their arms for the first time and suddenly their life is transformed; they find new purpose; the world becomes more meaningful; their heart is no longer their own. Didn’t happen to me.
After almost two days supporting Mable through her laborious labour, I took Atalia in my arms. I now had a daughter (I hadn’t known whether I had a son or a daughter until that moment). She was spotty, squawky, fragile, had flipper feet, and was already distressingly independent. I looked wearily at her and I knew that this person was going to change my life. I knew that I would have to work hard for her, and that she wouldn’t even recognise most of that until she had a child of her own, in decades to come. I could see that she was going to need me, and yet fight me, for many years, until at last my reward would be watching her confidently walk away. I understood that I could no longer make decisions on the basis of what worked just for Mable and me. I knew that my life was transformed. I knew that I loved her, and always would.
That’s the difference between the love that we have in Christ, and the world’s idea of love. For the world, it’s all about feelings: is there a warm glow in my heart? Is my stomach turning somersaults? Do I feel butterflies in my chest? The problem with this approach is obvious: feelings come, and feelings go, but feelings are deceiving. If we place our faith in feelings, we reap disappointment, betrayal, and heartbreak. It’s not wrong to feel a warm glow of love for your child. It is wrong to build your relationship on that feeling. The same is true of any relationship.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, we can love even when we don’t feel loving, we can care when we’re careless, we can serve when we’re weak, and we can comfort when we are heartbroken. That is our call as Christian parents, as Christian couples, as Christian brothers and sisters, as Christian children. God’s unchanging love for us—in which he sent his own son to die for us while we were yet in rebellion against Him—that is ours to share, because it dwells in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us love, then, no matter how we’re feeling.