Monday, June 29, 2009

what i learned, part 3: thoughts on blessings

(In many ways, I'm about to write my own version of a great post from Conversion Diary called "Getting my Life Back." You can read it here.)

In some ways, I was as prepared as anyone can be for having a baby. In other ways, like everyone else, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.

Halle was the first person to ever tell me children were a blessing. I didn't really understand what she meant, but it seemed rude to question a woman with eight children on her logic behind contraception. I didn't grow up thinking or using the word "blessing." Presbyterians don't really do that, at least they didn't in my church. The word "blessing" felt like Christianese for "luck," and Presbyterians certainly don't talk about luck. They talk about sovereignty, providence, sanctification. We don't talk about blessings. But Halle's life gave credibility to her words, and I didn't really question if she was right. She was certainly happy, so fine, yes, okay, children are a blessing, in the way that clean water and a roof over my head is a blessing. Which is to say that, by being American - and reasonably fertile - I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Call it what you want, but having a baby is 15% biology and 85% pure blind luck. So if that's what she meant by children being a blessing, I could agree with that.

I had no idea what she really meant.

Mikkee is a wise soul, and she is fond of saying that anything that makes you long for Heaven is a blessing. Her use of the word made more sense to me - anything that draws you to God has value, no matter how painful it is in the moment. What I did not understand, until I had Silas, was that Mikkee and Halle were talking about the same thing.

It was not until Silas was born that I felt the shock of sacrifice, of having to give something up for the sake of other people. For several months, I spent every minute of every day (all the time, in every thing) taking care of somebody else. Waking up at 2 a.m. every single night, no matter how tired I was. Dicing food ad nauseum, and making sure everyone else was satisfied before I fed myself. Summoning energy from who knows where to read one more story or feed one more bottle, because that is what was needed in the moment. What about MY life? I would bemoan. What about my food? My time? My needs?

Do you know what I learned? I can do with a lot less than I thought I could.

Less food, less free time, less sleep - none of it is quite as important as I imagined it to be (except maybe sleep). There's a balance in this, of course. I also learned that I get twitchy and ca-razy without consistent spiritual and emotional nourishment (which is why small group Bible study is so important in my life). But MY needs are not nearly as important as I once thought they were. I can go without a shower, I can eat dinner later. The things that used to seem so urgent really aren't as important as I thought they were.

And this is how children are a blessing: They teach us how to live in sacrificial love, drawing us closer in line to following Christ. In teaching me how to give sacrificially to my children, mothering Silas has drawn me closer to God, and in this way he has been a very real spiritual blessing in my life.

I knew a year ago that I loved him, but I had no idea how much I would be blessed by Silas's first year of life.

Happy birthday, baby boy.


mikkee said...

well, this made me all teary.

Lisa said...

Good thoughts to chew on today. Something to remember when the day-to-day tasks get us down a bit.

mary said...

happy birthday silas!!