“Some things you just have to experience” is one of the most unsatisfying answers in the history of sub-par responses and yet it is true. There are life experiences that are nearly impossible to convey in words to those who have yet to share that experience. It’s quite an extensive list actually: the haunting (in a good way) melody of the call to prayer, your first love, your first encounter with loss, the structured commotion of Tokyo, marriage, the moment your feet leave the plane while skydiving, the unapologetic beauty of the Rockies – just to name a few. You may deny it, but there is a world of understanding that awaits you on the other side of experience.
The pattern is as follows:
you hear about something –> you become curious –> you ask –> you get told you have to experience it to fully understand –> you grumble and doubt the person (it’s probably their inability to communicate that is the real problem) –> you buy that person a thesaurus –> one day you experience the life moment in question –> 2 months later a friend asks you about it and you tell them it is hard to explain until you’ve been there –> repeat
Parenting has to be experienced to be fully understood. We’ve always wondered why Christians, the Bible and even God himself utilize parenting imagery to describe God. Our understanding is fuller now.
1) Dax often falls asleep in one place and wakes up in another. He dozes off in the stroller at home and awakes in a store. He falls asleep on a train and comes to in a taxi. Despite the inexplicable change of scenery he is never alarmed because when he opens his eyes he sees us. The setting is secondary. As his parents we provide a sense of continuity. He feels at home wherever he is with us. The last 5 years have been a rollercoaster at times and home has become a relative term. Despite where we are in the world (and our feet have covered some serious ground) God has provided us with a sense of continuity.
2) We don’t want to be those parents who flood social media with our kid doing everything/anything/nothing. However, we now understand those parents who inundate the world wide web (yes, the digital version of the flip-down picture wallet) with every aspect of their child’s life. As parents you don’t need your child to do anything to evoke an overwhelming sense of pride and delight. Dax can roll over 2 cm more than he did the day before and we would be willing to throw a party. He can be fast asleep and we’re beaming with joy. He smiles, we melt. Could it be that God uses parental imagery to demonstrate that we don’t need to do much to make him burst with joy? Of course he celebrates the milestones, but we cannot forget that there is delight in the little things.
3) There is absolutely, and we use that word in its strongest sense, nothing that could dissuade us of our love and ownership of Daxon. He is ours. We love him. Growing-up in Christian homes we were often told that God’s love is unconditional. We get that now.
4) At this point in his life, there is nothing that we cannot provide for Daxon. His physical and emotional needs are entirely satisfied by our actions. In time this will change. We’re human. On a divine level there will never come a time when God is unable to meet our needs.
Before becoming parents we didn’t fully grasp the use of child/parenting imagery woven throughout Christianity. Now that we have our parent hats on we understand why it’s a true and potent way of explaining the dynamic between the divine and the mortal. If you don’t get it, wait until you have to parent. After all, it has to be experienced.