This past weekend, my girls wanted to go out and play in the snow. We were at our in-laws for a Christmas get-together and my wife’s sister and brother-in-law offered to take the girls out for us, so my wife and I could snuggle in the warmth while they played in the cold.
It was a tempting offer. I am no fan of the snow, and my wife hates cold with a red-hot passion.
But then our oldest daughter asked us to come help her build a snowman.
We went out.
A week or so ago, we finished our secret Bible study in Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage. According to Gary’s final chapter, “God’s design for marriage helps us confront our fundamental weaknesses, one of which is selfishness.” He says that marriage is a perfect laboratory for learning to overcome our tendency to be selfish.
I agree with Gary wholeheartedly. Marriage is a great way to learn how selfish you are. But if marriage is an undergrad course in selfishness, parenthood is the grad level.
Kids are wonderful little takers. Babies never change their own diapers. Toddlers never cook their own food. Preschoolers never do their own laundry. Take, take, take.
Well, that’s not entirely fair. Kids do give things too. They give things like warm feelings, love, and snotty tissues (or they simply use your shirt as a tissue). But for the most part, they take more than they give, and they complain when you aren’t giving enough.
So if you think you have your selfishness under control in your marriage, maybe it is time to get pregnant just to learn how far you really are from perfect.
If you stop reading now, you might walk away thinking that I don’t love my kids or that I resent them for how much they take. Please don’t stop reading now. I love my kids fiercely, second only to how much I love my wife. And for all they take, my love for them insists that I have more to give, and I am overjoyed to do so.
So when our oldest daughter asked us to come help her build a snowman, we went. And we had a lot of fun.
After all, love is focused outward, and parenthood is all about love.