Six weeks ago to the day my life was forever changed. A tiny baby girl was born with my nose and my husband’s love of eating. God has used this month and a half of motherhood to reveal to me deeper truths about my relationship to Him and I wanted to share just a couple of them with you today.
The Myth of Independence
It’s three in the morning and my beloved daughter has scooted herself into the corner of the pack and play. She has no muscle control yet to move herself out of the spot where she’s wedged, she’s stuck until I come scoop her out of bed. Every day I stare at our daughter and I am struck by her utter helplessness and dependence. If I didn’t reach down into her crib and pick her up each morning she’d spend all day there. If I didn’t feed her, she’d never grow or nourish herself on her own. And as I reflect on that it leads me to thoughts of my own neediness. I extend endless effort to feel self-sufficient but the truth is that I am the same as my helpless babe wedged in the corner of her crib. If it weren’t for my God putting breath into my lungs every morning or pumping blood through my heart I could not live. We like to pretend as if we weren’t, but the truth is we are all just as fragile as newborns. Left to our own devices we make a mess of our lives, wedging ourselves in the corner unable to get ourselves out. We need a good Father to come pick us up, clean us, and show us how to live. And praise be to God that He is that Father! He pulls us out of our sin, makes us clean by the blood of His son Jesus, and teaches us the way He intended for life to be lived. And when I stop pretending I am sufficient I can just rest in His love knowing He will take care of me just as I take care of my daughter.
The Delight of a Creator
It was a couple weeks after my daughter’s birth that I remember looking into her eyes and all of a sudden realizing that those were my eyes staring back at me! My baby daughter bears my image and when people look at her they see little bits of me including those big blue eyes. It is humbling the way that God allows humans not only to bear His image but also to take part in creating more little humans that bear His image. When we encounter another person, they are a small representation of the God who created them. There is something unique and mysterious about being a creator and if I sense that in my daughter who I only had a small part in creating, I am in awe when I think of God who made us all and knows us more deeply than we even know ourselves. It moves me toward Him because I know how much I want to be loved and known by my daughter but also want to love and know her. And if I desire that, how much more must our God desire to be known and loved and to love and know us!
The Great Cost of New Life
Let’s jump back to that 3 a.m. scene from earlier. I already described my baby’s state but here’s a snapshot of what mom looks like. My eyes are barely open, my greasy hair is thrown up in a bun that probably will not be washed that day, and I am tripping over the dirty clothes on our floor. I don’t think anyone would argue that being a mom is a difficult job. The reward of new life is great but it’s costly. For me the past six weeks have cost me my sleep, my freedom, and even my health so that this new little life might flourish. My body was literally cut open so that her life might exist. And as I consider those things, the great reward that comes at such a high price I can’t help but reflect on another reward, another new life that was bought at incredible price: my own. My experience of the sacrifice of motherhood reflects in such a small way the life and death of Jesus on earth. His body was broken, exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally all so that I might have new life in Him. There was great cost to His love but ultimately the reward was greater for Him: the opportunity for His people to be reunited to the God who made them so that they might “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Have you ever noticed that people love celebrating babies? It has been amazing to me to see the generosity of our friends and family as they celebrate the life of our daughter. I believe that the reason we can’t help but rejoice in the presence of a baby, a new physical life, is because we all were meant for new life ourselves: new spiritual life. There is something deep within our souls that feels excited and relieved at the thought of fresh, new life. We look at the innocence of a baby and long for that purity and freshness, but I think we also sense that new life like that comes at a price. The perfect life and undeserved death of Jesus on the cross pays that price for us. We have the opportunity to be new and pure, taking on His perfect record if we would only put our trust in Him.
It is beautiful to think that God designed motherhood in such a way that it parallels His love and devotion to us. It provides such relief to know that as I fumble my way through this new journey, there is a God I can trust for the satisfaction of my soul and the soul of my daughter. I don’t have to be self-sufficient and the cost becomes so much less to bear because my creator’s love and devotion is more fulfilling and sustaining than any mother’s love could ever be. And that gives me great peace and hope.
By Meredith Chen