It seems rational: why would a 2-year-old love Jesus? Two-year-olds have no understanding of their sin or a need for a Savior, and yet it was still shocking to hear my daughter say, “I don’t love Jesus!” Immediately, her brother tried to correct her; the passionate pleas of a 4-year-old brother were very precious. I think my initial reaction would have been different had this not been my own daughter, but knowing her heart, I knew it was true. She doesn’t love Jesus, and I think she actually enjoys being naughty and purposefully destructive. In fact, we used to call her “destroyer of the Universe” until she decided she didn’t like the nickname.
So instead of responding with all the great things to love about Jesus (all things she has heard a hundred times in her short life), I PRAISED her. I told her how thankful Mommy was that she was honest. “Dez bug, Mommy is so proud of you for telling the truth. I hope one day you do love Jesus, but that won’t make Mommy love you more or less. I love you because Jesus gave you as a precious gift to Mommy, and I hope you can always tell Mommy the truth about what you think about Jesus.”
I responded this way for two precious reasons 1) Desiree’s heart and 2) Elijah’s heart. I don’t want my children to grow up saying the “right words” just because they have learned it pleases others. I want Desiree to find a true relationship with Christ as she grows older. I am thankful that it will be so obvious when she finally does love Jesus! Her little heart is sinful, just like everyone else’s, but she has a unique way in displaying her sin. She doesn’t seem motivated by pleasing others, but actually appears to enjoy shocking others (which is another reason why I didn’t want to over react). Elijah, on the other hand, is very passionate about everything and he seeks to please man constantly. He prays like a prophet and constantly preaches at (not to) the other kids in our home. It’s hard to know where his heart is, because he seems so genuine, and yet, he has not shared any true signs of recognition of his sinfulness, his need for a savior or repentance. I knew he was watching my response to his sister, and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t saying that he loved Jesus just to please me.
The hardest part of parenting is knowing God alone saves. I can’t save my children by teaching them the right words or forcing them to go to church. And yet, the biggest comfort in parenting is that ultimately God is in control and He alone saves! Even though I’m not doing things perfectly, Jesus will save whom He wills. After all, many of us (myself included) grew up in horribly abusive non-Christian homes, and we love The Lord!
Side Note: The day after I wrote this, my precious little girl asked me to pray for her specifically. “mommy, please ask Jesus that I have a happy heart and am obedient.” It was encouraging to see that she knows only God can soften our hearts or make us obedient to him. I’m looking forward to years of wrestling through faith with her. After all, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).