Talk to any parent of more than one child, and they will tell you that each child is unique and must be parented differently. While this is obvious, it still surprises me on a regular basis. For example, Jaycie was a great reader. She wanted to read and picked it up easily. It may help that even at an early age we were overachievers – even putting static cling letters on our car windows to help her practice. By preschool she was well on her way to reading, and by Kindergarten was quite a good reader. Hannah, on the other hand, is certainly smart enough to read, but for whatever reason isn’t quite getting it.
Case in point. The other day we were driving and I decided to take advantage of the time in the car to learn some beginning letter sounds, and the letter “A” seemed like a good place to start.
“What do you see that starts with “A?” It sounds like uh, uh, uh…”
“Uh car. Uh tree.”
“No. Let’s try another one. What do you see that starts with the “tuh” sound? Tuh, tuh, tuh…”
“Yes! Anything else? Tuh, tuh, tuh…”
“Yes! Great job! Now let’s do “L.” What starts with la, la, la…”
“No. La, la, la…”
At this point I am starting to think that we should take a break – or start saving for some high school textbooks on tape. Of course, then there’s Will. I hear him saying over and over, “La, la, la, stupid. La, la, la, stupid.” I have a feeling that he is going to be another story altogether. I was reminded once again that every child is different, and my expectations and parenting techniques have to change based on the individual child. This doesn’t make me love any child less than the others, because my love is not based on their abilities or performance but my relationship with them.
Is it that far fetched to believe that God sees us the same way? I often compare myself to others and focus on the ways in which I am lacking. I am not as good a teacher as one person. I am not naturally inclined to visit like others are. I don’t pray like some people do. There are so many ways in which I am inferior to, or at least different than, others, and I spend much of my life living as if God thinks less of me because I am not as good as other people are. Because of my imperfections I am hesitant to approach my Father, embarrassed that I am not as good as His other children.
I have always known the verse that “God is no respecter of persons,” but I’m not sure I was totally aware of the context of it. Knowing that it is in Acts 10 and part of Peter’s speech to the first Gentile converts makes it even more significant.
“Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34-35
Not to oversimplify the Jewish religion, but in some ways Peter spent much of his life being taught that he was valuable to God because of his obedience, his worship, his knowledge. He was defined by what he did and his heritage, not by his relationship with God. Even a three year association with Jesus didn’t completely convince Peter that God loves everybody unconditionally. It took a vision of food formerly considered unclean and the testimony of Cornelius to show him this great truth that God loves all of His children equally, just the way they are.
Just like my children are all different, I am very different from everyone else. I learn differently, express myself differently, and have different strengths and abilities. God loves those who serve Him in their own ways, but He loves me and accepts me equally. He deals with me in His infinite wisdom and understanding of who I am, and He has expectations of me based on His knowledge of who I can become. He doesn’t get frustrated with me because I am not as smart as my brother, or as devoted as my sister. He made me, and He wants me to do the best I can with what He has given me. That is good enough for me with my kids, and I am confident it is good enough for my Father.