A Love I Didn’t Know

28 11 2007

Rylie the Little BakerMy precious daughter, Rylie Karis, is now a little over 2 and a half.  She is my joy and my delight.  Her presence in my life has caused me to grow in numerous ways, to provide a whole new perspective on God’s care for me, and to discover a love that, I must confess, really surprised me. 
Before God blessed us with Rylie, Amy and I had been married for 6 years. She is and has been my best friend.  Over those six years my relationship with Amy really grew and I experienced a deepening of my love for her and my commitment to her.  I am closer to her than any other person on this planet!  
However, when Rylie was born, I discovered a love I did not know. It is somehow different from the love I experience in my relationship with my wife and that was something I hadn’t expected. There are days when just the thought of seeing Rylie laugh or discover something new or just watching her sleep fills me with so much joy I think I might explode! Honestly, it often feels like me heart has grown and at times my body and my mind can’t handle the change- like it just might swallow me up! 
Do any of you who are parents know what I’m talking about? 
Have you experienced the same thing?
The difference is hard to describe, but I guess I should give it a shot. 
One way to express the difference is to say that my love for Rylie is a downward love, while my love for Amy is a horizontal love.  Amy is my partner, my companion, my equal; while Rylie is my care and my charge.  My love for Amy is affection and adoration and assistance to an equal.  But with Rylie, as her father, God gives me joy in caring for her, in teaching her, in cheering her on to new accomplishments.
I understood that difference in theory before Rylie was born, but I was completely unaware of how much joy I would find in this downward love.  Let me try to illustrate what I mean.
With Rylie, everything is new; her world is a new one.  And as I watch her, there is a joy I take in her experiencing the newness.  The day she took her first steps was one of the proudest days of my life; I took such delight in her accomplishing this milestone.  I was filled with joy for her and in her.  I had never known the experience of watching my child, my own flesh and blood, take their first step.  She had been trying to walk, without much success, for some time and when she finally did it, I was so happy for her!  My charge had accomplished something wonderful for her and it became something wonderful to me.  I entered into her joy and because of my perspective (as one watching over her and caring for her) I think my joy far surpassed her own.
As you can see, I’m still just trying to figure out this love I’ve found.  When I’ve talked to other parents, they identify with what I’m saying, but we always seem to have a hard time putting our finger on how it is different and why.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the difference. 
But one final thought before I leave this topic for now: I wonder how this relates to God’s affection for us?  When we share our faith, or truly walk in the Spirit, or depend on His strength to endure our trial, do you think God experiences a similar downward joy- a joy that exceeds our own?  I’d love to hear thoughts and scripture surrounding this question.
 
What a blessing it is to be Rylie’s dad and I pray that I can continue to faithfully delight in the charge my God has given me.  I love you, Rylie!     

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4 responses

28 11 2007
Amy

She is a blessing! I can’t imagine life without her! I’m so thankful for the love you have for her too, you’re a great Daddy!

30 11 2007
Stephanie

Downward love…what a perfect phrase!

4 12 2007
Dave

With me, I’ve found that loving a person as God perscribes is somewhat easier with your child, than say your spouse or friend. Agape love is suppose to be something you conciously choose to do apart from what the recipient of the love has done or not done. With others around me, I have to work at loving them not just because they’re nice to me or loving them despite when they treat me badly. With my boys, I very quickly realized that I’ll always love them simply because of who they are. I chose my friends and wife (well, God did), but my sons came out of Michelle and I. That’s a pretty heavy thought. Everything that makes me me (biologically) and everything that makes Michelle her worked together to make two new unique organisms. That blows my mind.

So when it comes to doing what I think is best for them, it doesn’t matter that one just accosted me with a plastic truck and the other is screaming like a banshee, it’s built into me to take care of them. I still get frustrated, but I’ll never be able to write them off; loving them just seems… built in. And now I understand a little bit more about how God can find love for people who are adopted into his fold and them turn around and sin against him. I just wish I was as good at it as He is.

4 12 2007
Dave Allen

Here’s a quote from John Denver in a song he wrote to his son Zachary. While Denver was wrong on a lot of his outlook on the world, he sure did say it beautifully.

“Oh little angel, shining light
You’ve set my soul to dreaming
You’ve given back my joy of life
And filled me with new meaning”

I thought this was an especially touching line. It’s from “A Baby Just Like You” on his Christmas album he did with the Muppets, “A Christmas Together”

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