“I want to know Christ” (Philippians 3:10). 

Flipping through a book called Parenting Advice to Ignore in Art and Life, which cleverly combines unhelpful parenting advice with classic paintings, my husband and I stopped and laughed at this one: “Cherish every moment. Even when they’re screaming at you and no one is sleeping and you’re both crying and it seems like the longest day that will never end and it’s just awful. Cherish. It.”  

Parenting is often hard, and I think we can all agree that dishing out cliches like this is pretty unhelpful. A friend of ours with a baby girl our son’s age told me that for her a theme of parenthood is a lot of mixed emotions. Another friend told me something similar: that all feelings are valid. You can love your little one more fiercely than you could ever have imagined—and still be exhausted, over-touched and overstimulated, or numb, and need a break to feel sane and whole.  

But days later, I’m still mulling over the “cherish every moment” cliché. Because the thing is, while I definitely haven’t cherished every moment as a new parent, and while I  wouldn’t particularly appreciate someone blithely telling me to cherish every moment during one of those very hard days, overall I still have cherished these days. And even some of the hardest moments. When he’s suddenly inexplicably waking up every few hours at night, and we’re absolutely exhausted and want nothing more than for him to figure out that sleep stuff again, he burrows his little face in my arm, content, and I melt. 

We might not cherish every moment—but we do always cherish him. 

It’s an experience that’s helped me understand the Scriptural message to find joy in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). This verse can become a cliché when it’s lifted out of context as if it’s promising a life of sunshine and rainbows where the hard stuff isn’t really fully seen, acknowledged, or experienced. But in its original context it was far from a blithe dismissal of what is hard in life. It was a radical insistence to those who knew all about suffering that hope and joy was still possible. In a world where death was assumed to have the final word, the gospel insisted that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, life and love still win. 

“Rejoice . . . always” (4:4) was an invitation to see it all differently—to fiercely cherish life in both its highs and lows as the place where we meet Christ. Where we experience what it’s like to love and be loved in and through it all.  Where in both good and hard times we come to know him (3:10), the one who showed us what love looks like (2:1-8). 

This doesn’t mean that we should try incessantly to smooth over life’s hardest moments with a positive spin. As my friend told me, “Sometimes it’s okay to just be stressed and let the special/grateful/wholesome feelings wait for an hour. . . or a day.” This is wisdom to hold onto, too. 

But I’m grateful to know that there’s a love deeper than mine carrying us through those days. Who through his sacrifice proved beyond a doubt that we are cherished. Always. 

—Written by Monica LaRose. Used by permission from the author.