Children, on the other hand, always imitate their parents. That is grace, pure and simple. Children adore their parents whether the parents deserve it or not. Watch any group of children and you will see their parents emerge. Most preschool teachers will tell you they are rarely surprised when meeting a child's parents - they can already recognize them by their mannerisms.
True love between a parent and a child may be the closest vision of God's love that we will ever see. Adoring parents watch every move their child makes, and interpret, and re-interpret the meaning behind it. This week a mother pointed to her small child and said "he always rubs his head when he's worried". The child, barely old enough to comprehend "worried." was indeed, at that moment, worried. Children can be equally perceptive of their parents. "My Mommy doesn't feel good. She's got those lines between her eyes" was an unsolicited observation by a very sharp five-year-old. And, sure enough, they soon excused themselves, Mommy citing an impending migraine.
We've all seen a brother torture his sister by aping every move she makes: "Mom, he's copying me" immediately echoed, usually in unflattering squeaky tones by, "Mom, he's copying me." And whether it's brother/sister, brother/brother, sister/sister imitation - it's a connection born of relationship, a natural expression of sincere affection. With my girls, I noticed that I could always tell when one of them made a new friend because suddenly, a new catch phrase, attitude or habit would invade our home, with no apparent source. Some of these imitations were short-lived; others moved in and became part of the family.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also one of the truest indicators of love. We can imitate those we love because we watch them with great intensity, and we spend as much time as possible together. We are fully immersed in the relationship.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Familiar words. If I look to God with the eyes of a child and, in total adoration, imitate what I see, how will I look? Will I, like the preschool children described above, adopt enough God mannerisms that you will learn to recognize God from watching me? Which God mannerisms will your child pick up from watching you?
Being a parent is a large calling. Don't be afraid; you're never alone in this. The Parent of us all is available as a model. You just have to imitate.