I’ve never fully understood my friends who choose to have lots of kids. Even 2 or 3 kids feels like too much to me. But now I’m starting to understand it more.
I’ve been working hard on getting to know myself. Losing my church and the identity that went with that was hard. Getting to know who I am without an outside community telling me who I am has been a long hard process. But as I learn who I am and learn how to love that person, I learn how to love the others around me better. As I learn to love those around me better I learn to love myself better.
Christians often debate if “Love your neighbor as yourself” means that first you love yourself and then love your neighbor or if it means first love your neighbor then love yourself. I think the only way they can work is hand-in-hand. You must be constantly striving to love yourself and others better. If you have a low image of yourself you can’t be as effective at taking care of others.
I think becuase out culture has so many people that glorify themselves too much, many of us react by loving ourselves too little out of fear of lifting ourselves up too high. The balance is hard to strike, but I think I’ve now experienced moments of it here and there and its been a really long time since that’s happened. I’m working at ignoring the shame I’ve learned over the past two decades and replacing it with accepting myself and others exactly where we are at. Its a good process.
Losing judgment and shame for yourself and others is hard, becuase first you have to acknowledge that it is there. Its a painful process realizing how much these weird cultural ideals shape who we are. Pride, shame, judgement, they are there here and we must point to them before we can fix them. It has to start with ourselves though. We can’t point out the speck in our brothers eye until we recognize the plank in our own.
Its amazing that though this process I have not lost my faith. Many do. Many see the shame and damage that comes from christian culture and they reject all of it. And I don’t blame them for doing so, its not a bad choice. But for me, my faith has just changed. I still see the absolutely incredible wisdom and beauty in Christ’s words. I think I see it more now than I have in a long time. The biggest travesty is that these words meant to help have been used over and over again to harm. But when we can see that, and when we can choose love, both for ourselves and others we grow. As we add more people to the our circle of people we care for we don’t run dry on love, we overflow with it.
I can now understand why people have lots of kids. With each one your love grows. We have an every increasing capacity for love, not a limit.