I expected many changes when I became a mother. I anticipated diaper duty and midnight feedings. I expected to run on caffeine. I didn’t expect parenthood to bring me closer to God — but it did.

Giving birth makes your heartbeat fall in tune with the pulse of God’s creation itself. You’re creating a miracle, the miracle of life. Through the process of nurturing and raising my children, I’ve learned to understand the lessons of Christ on a more meaningful level.

1. I Learned to Honor My Mother

We know the Bible tells you to honor your mother and father, but what does that mean? Does it mean remembering to make a homemade card on Mother’s Day? Does it entail cleaning your room on time?

I discovered that honoring my mother meant drawing upon her insight — a lot. I must have called Mom a hundred times a day after the birth of my first child. I never before realized how much wisdom she had to share — but I do now.

2. I’ve Expanded My Worldview 

Remember how in the movie “Shrek,” the protagonist says ogres are like onions? It turns out people are like that, too. In trying to understand my child’s behavior, I’ve had to examine my motivations and actions.

I’ve also had to examine my core beliefs — for example, do I genuinely believe all people are inherently good? Even when I witness a tiny bully at the playground? Instead of jumping to conclusions that the child has an inherent personality flaw, I’ve learned to question what could make them behave in such a manner. Maybe they’re merely tired or not feeling well.

3. I’ve Examined My Behaviors

Becoming a parent means becoming a role model, too, whether you like it or not. I’ve had to do some significant soul-searching and reflection on how my behavior impacts others. For example, I used to think little of making a snarky remark or sighing in exasperation when my 5-year-old asked me the same question for the umpteenth time. Once I realized my attitude could crush her innate curiosity, I tried to celebrate her inquisitiveness.

4. I Try to Emulate Patience 

We often talk about people exhibiting the patience of a saint. I believe most new moms deserve that award. When my toddler kicks her feet and denies any attempts to put on her shoes while we’re running late, it’s tempting to lash out in anger. I’ve learned to bite my tongue — and exercise acceptance. After all, if she’s going to be in a stroller, does it matter if she goes out in socks?

5. I Work With My Hands More 

Jesus was a carpenter, but I had insufficient respect for hands-on work until I gave birth. In case you missed it, parenting these days is expensive! It’s far more affordable to make various toys and necessities myself. I even learned to swing a hammer well enough to build a nifty toy chest — and I’m proud of that! 

6. I Give More Selflessly

Children can cast mirrors on your soul. I remember the first time my 5-year-old saw someone begging on a freeway exit ramp. Like many, I was in the habit of passing by and going about my day. It wasn’t until she asked, “Why is that person standing there like that?” that I realized how desperate people must be to resort to such a means of raising money. It sparked a discussion and led to a fun afternoon of making care packages to give to the homeless.

7. I Discuss Human Failings

I’ve learned to examine the motivations of others — and I’ve taught my children to do the same. Both my girls share a favorite game of feeling faces. When we read a book or people-watch together, we’ll discuss how they’re feeling based on their expressions. This activity reinforces the value of empathy in my children — and myself.

8. I Reinforce the Importance of Sharing 

I suggest that my kiddos share their toys so often, my 5-year-old now does so independently, which fills me with joy. I can’t explain the pride that wells up in me when I see her sharing her favorite snack with others at the playground. Of course, I’ve had to learn not to hog the entire bag of crisps, too — but that makes me a better, more generous Christian.

9. I Show More Kindness Toward Living Things

I’ve always had a soft spot in my home for animals, but I wouldn’t hesitate to crush a spider. That is until my daughter and I decided to plant a small garden together. She was fascinated by earthworms, which lead to an interest in other creepy-crawly things. I’ll admit, I wouldn’t say I liked it — but I did learn a considerable amount about how spiders eat harmful insect pests. Since then, I rehome them outdoors with the help of a cup — or my hubby.

10. I Occasionally Perform a Miracle or Two 

“Mom, I need cupcakes for snack time,” my 5-year-old insists — 30 minutes before the bus leaves. I’m not a big fan of the palm oil in some commercially prepared baked goods. Therefore, with the help of the trusty internet, a batch of 15-minute cupcakes it was. Yeah. I deserve a Gold Glove for that catch!

11. I’ve Learned to Love Unconditionally 

Finally, being a mom means loving my children unconditionally, even when they’re behaving like little terrors. It’s coping with tantrums and whining and all sorts of unpleasant things. It’s not easy to love others when they’re driving you batty. However, in the end, a smile from either of my precious daughters reminds me that it’s all worthwhile.

Being a Mom Has Enriched My Relationship With God 

Becoming a parent has led me to emulate more Christ-like behaviors in my life. I’m a better person for it, and I thank God for that.

Jennifer Landis writes about parenting on RedTri and MommyBites. She enjoys hanging out with her daughters and drinking tea all day long. Tweet her cute baby photos @JenniferELandis or check out her latest posts on Mindfulness Mama.

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