McBrayer: God, like parents, give out of love
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Paying for your raising?” It is the parental cycle of karma, I think. All the sins of your youth and all the ways you hurt your parents, come home to roost in your own children.
My father told me regularly that I was going to “pay for my raising.” I didn’t believe him, and now, as the father of three teenagers, I still don’t believe him.
Because I read recently that a child born into a middle-income family this year, excluding the cost of college, will require nearly $250,000 to rear to adulthood. But it costs a lot more than that, believe me!
You can’t pump the serotonin you burned up back into your parents’ brains. You can’t undo all their gray hair, heartburn and high blood pressure that you caused. Because of you they had extensive counseling sessions, hormone therapy and sleepless nights.
Your parents experienced existential guilt, law enforcement interventions, miserable teacher conferences, and gastroesophageal reflux disease: You did this to your parents! We all did — your kids will do it to you — and there’s no way to repay any of it. Thankfully, there’s no expectation to do so, because most of us would endure all these heartaches again and again for the sake of those to whom we gave life.
Such love has a name. It is the Hebrew word, “Chesed,” usually associated with God’s fatherly love for his children, a word that has no easy English equivalent. Some call it grace, mercy or kindness, but these attempts fail. “Chesed” is all of these things and more, the central Hebrew virtue to which all acts of charity and goodness are attached.
One rabbi, explaining so plainly, says, “When a person works for an employer, and then he gets paid, that pay is really a recycling of his own deeds. It isn’t love. It isn’t kindness. It is earned. But an act of ‘chesed’ cannot be recycled. It is something given or granted without cause.”
Parenthood is based on this kind of unfailing, nonrecyclable love. It is an act of steady, secure, unshakable, unearned, uncaused and sometimes unappreciated compassion. That’s nothing that you or anyone else can pay back, even if you wrote your dad a big fat check for Father’s Day this weekend. He could use the money, I’m sure, but he would do it all over again for the sake of love.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor and author of multiple books. Visit his website at ronniemcbrayer.net.