And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” -Matthew 18:3

 I’ve had the blessing of wearing my Mom title for almost four years, and there’re quite a few things I’ve learned. The biggest and most mind-blowing one, though, has been this:

My children know how to love, and they love SO well.

My son Pierson will turn four in June, and his baby sister Reese is two. As toddlers; teeny, tiny little humans, they are ready and willing to love just about anyone. My oldest brother Nathan, thirty-three, was born with Cerebral Palsy. He resides with my parents and has many other special needs that factor in with his disability. His speech is altered immensely, and because of his extreme Osteoporosis, his movement is unstable. He loves to play on the computer, and when he gets excited, he jumps up and down and flaps his hands back and forth. He loves music, and when people read to him, that is one of his deepest love languages. He is loud, he is different, and yet, by my children who can’t quite understand, he is loved.

Since being able to form prayer requests on his own, Pierson never leaves Nathan out. He thanks God for him each night and prays that he won’t get sick (a dangerous and common occurrence for my brother!) When we are in Michigan, he watches Nathan closely, but doesn’t stare in a rude or disrespectful way, he is sincerely curious of his Uncle. Reese never hesitates and gives him ‘head hugs’ (Nathan’s favorite way to show affection), and she eagerly tells him, “Love you!!!”

When I was a child, I was super protective and defensive of my brother. We would go into stores or restaurants, and there were always people who would literally gawk at the site of him. Any chance I got, I hissed, “Stop STARING!” at them. In middle school, a boy I was talking to said, “No, your other brother,” and I flat out punched him in the arm. He wasn’t even trying to be offensive; he just didn’t know how to word, ‘your brother with special needs,’ or perhaps didn’t think he needed to. Flash forward twenty years, I’m still the baby sister, but now I’m also Mom–and it’s my job to continue teaching my children how to love everyone, even and especially those who appear different than themselves.

So what will happen when I introduce my kids to their family member who is transgendered? What will their reaction be when they see that person, who was born a man, who they know as a man, who now identifies as a woman? This is no small discussion. This is not a simple conversation, nor one that I can even remotely come up with scenarios about. At this time, I’m just not ready. In my head, I want them to be a little older and to be able to rationalize complete sentences and questions that they may have for us. Pierson is somewhat of an anxious kid, and sometimes I worry that this introduction will scare him. That he will fear more of the unknown and things that he cannot articulate at such a young age. At two and three, our kids are just learning about body parts in general and the difference between boy and girl, man and woman. But I think that I know in my heart, deep down, that no matter when it happens or in what circumstance, Pierson will just love.

My husband and I love the Lord, and we strive in every aspect and area of our lives, to be teaching our children to do the same. Unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In our twenties and thirties, a lot of life has happened to us. We’ve witnessed drug use, we’ve been around people who party too hard, we know stories of abuse, neglect, abandonment. We know the rights and wrongs that we want to live our lives by, and we know what we believe. We have a Biblical upbringing and understand what the Scriptures mean. We are bombarded with social media, with hateful posts, with gossip and with adults disagreeing over how life should be lived.

Our childlike innocence, therefore, has been altered. We see black and white, but we also see shades of gray. As adults, sometimes loving others doesn’t come quite as easily, it becomes more of choice. We have to choose to love. Many people don’t understand my brothers’ needs; I’m sure to some he seems strange or abnormal. But Jesus created him, and I believe that He made Nathan the way he is for many reasons; one of them to show others how to love someone who is different. And because I believe in Jesus, I choose to love the rest of the population who is different as well. This doesn’t just mean handicapped and transgendered people–this includes so much more. I make a choice to love those who look different, act different, who have completely opposing political views, who love the same sex, who aspire to be a different gender, who don’t believe in my God, and those who heck, may not even like ME, at all.

Because I believe in these things, I will constantly strive to teach my children to do the same. There should not be judgment; there should not be any reason to love anyone less or differently. I am far from perfect, and so are you. I’m in need of so much healing, as are you. I may not quite be ready to introduce my very young children to our family member as she, but I’m confident that when we do, they will have innocent and open hearts. They will love.