As I was growing up, I remembered asking my parents at various occasions whom they loved more — my brother or me. To which both my parents would answer consistently without wavering, they loved us both, neither one more than the other.
My brother and I had our own ideas though; we came to our own conclusion that dad loves me more while mum loves him more. We could come up with endless reasons which supported our claim that they loved one more than the other.
My brother had new toys while I had hand-me-downs. I had birthday parties while my brother did not. I mean, if they loved us both, neither one more than the other, surely we would both receive the same things and everything should be equally shared between us.
It is impossible to love equally
I carried this belief with me that it was impossible for my parents to love us equally. After all, we were of different age and gender and there was no way my parents could love us equally. Surely Mum loved the firstborn son more as she had him first. Surely Dad loved the younger daughter more as he was the protective father figure.
The problem with this philosophy of loving equally lies in the fact that my brother and I are different people. We are two separate individuals with personal likes and interest. This means that even providing us the same things isn’t exactly loving us equally. Technically speaking, they just can’t love us equally, no parent can.
We can love our children wholeheartedly
When I had my second child, Michael, I realised that I love each of my children, neither one more than the other. I love them both as a parent but it isn’t equal. It isn’t equal in the sense that everything has to be equal halves for both of them now that I have two children.
I didn’t have to halve my love to divide it between my two boys. Just because I had another son in no way signifies that my love for my firstborn was cut down by 50 percent because I had to give the same amount to his brother. Quite the contrary, instead of both having equal halves or amounts, almost everything is different for them, be it the time spend together or the things they have.
When Michael was a newborn, I spent much more time with him than with my firstborn, John. This was because at that stage, I was nursing Michael and he was more reliant on me than his older brother who was already attending kindergarten. On the other hand, John and I will play board games and have snacks which we keep away from his little brother who is still too young for these treats.
My love for each of my sons is portrayed in different ways according to their age and interest yet I love both of them, neither one more than the other. While these do not measure up to be equal in the terms we know, any parent will still be able to identify with me that we do love each of our children wholeheartedly despite the 'measurements not adding up'.
God loves his children uniquely
As a parent loves their children, how much greater is the love God has for us his children. Lisa Bevere, in her book Without Rival records her eye-opening conversation with God where he explains to her his immeasurable love for us,
“Equal implies my love can be measured, and I assure you … it cannot. Same would mean my children are replaceable or interchangeable, and they are not. My heart is not divided into compartments. No one could take the place of or displace another in my heart. For you see, I don’t love my children equally, I love them uniquely”
We have a Father who loves us uniquely for who we are without comparing us with others. Likewise we too can love ourselves uniquely as we live out the life that only we are called to live. There will never be a better me than I can be.
Let us love purposefully
So I don’t love my children equally and neither does God loves us his children equally. There is no guilt in not loving our children equally; there is no need for yearning to be loved by God equally.
Instead, I have found that as I love my children wholeheartedly and uniquely, I begin to love them purposefully — to build them up for who they are without comparison — even as I myself come to the realization of the purposeful love our Father has uniquely for each of us regardless of the successes or failures of people around us.
As Psalm 139, verse 14 goes, “I confess Thee, because that with wonders I have been distinguished. Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul is knowing it well.”
Esther Koh is a stay-at-home mum living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
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