The Wisdom of Childhood
Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth,
Who is everywhere present and fills all things,
Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life,
Come and dwell within us,
Cleanse us of all stain,
And save our souls, O Gracious One!
The day I discovered that God would allow me to assist him in creating a new life is a day that I will never forget. I fainted. Yes, it’s true! When I arrived home from work, I prepared a little gift for my new husband, a baby spoon wrapped in tissue paper. I left it on the dinner table next to his plate. I knew he would be so thrilled! I felt time stand still for a minute and silently, and ever so gently, the reality of our new situation pressed upon us, and we both cried out with joy.
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)
Now we had only been married for three months when God gave us the gift of our daughter. Of course, there were those around us, well-meaning but worldly in their view of life, who suggested that we were out of our minds to begin our family so soon. For us, there was never a question that parenthood would be our first goal and that God would decide when and if that would happen for us. Despite their concerns, we were thrilled and couldn't wait to share our joy with our family and friends.
“...We hear them telling, in their own tongues, the mighty works of God, and all were amazed and perplexed saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others, mocking, said, “They are filled with new wine!” (Acts 2:1-3)
Thus the trinity of our new little family was formed in the image of God: Father, Mother, and Baby.
I must admit that before this time, my world had been centered around, well...me! Like most young adults, I focused on things that I thought I needed to consider myself successful. I thought I was a good and spiritual person. I thought I was aware of myself, and I thought I was happy: but oh how wrong I was. After having not just one but five of these little miraculous gifts from God, I have long contemplated (especially during night-time feedings) the great purpose they serve in representing the Holy Spirit in the trinity of the family. My husband does an excellent job representing the strength and discipline of the Heavenly Father. He laid out a plan for our future, built a wonderful home for our family, works two jobs to provide for our needs, and disperses authority and justice with love and concern for us all.
Everything we have is lovingly given to us by him, and the children know it. I remind them of it every time they fight over a toy or when they suggest that something is "mine.” They know that nothing belongs to us but that everything is provided by a loving father whose desire is for them to use it and be happy. They understand that, and their virtues of generosity and gratefulness are nurtured by it.
I distinctly remember one summer day, when I was pretty far along in my pregnancy, the thought came crashing down upon me that this child I was expecting was growing quite large. The overwhelming desire to see her, hold her and care for her was struck against the panicked understanding that there was only one way I could do so; I would have to deliver her. Never having done this before, I was afraid of that unknown. Feeling her cuddle against me inside, knowing that she needed and wanted to be with me as much as I needed and wanted to be with her, gave me the courage I needed to undertake the task at hand fearlessly. I would do whatever it took to have her with me. Then I thought of Jesus. This must have been how he felt when he contemplated the cross. There was only one way to reconcile us to God, only one way for us to join Him in heaven again, and He would willingly endure suffering and humiliation to achieve that goal.
We mothers are so much like Christ. We suffer purposefully for our families; we teach them, provide them with an example of life to follow, and sometimes even mediate for them before their father. Because we have such a great relationship, which grew in strength even before the children came to be, he will listen to me. The love between God the Father and His Divine Son is so great, so powerful, that it overflows into an entirely new and complete person in that of the Holy Spirit.
Knowing that our baby was on her way, our home, our very lives, would begin to evolve and change in a significant manner. The changes started when we built our new home, one with a yard and room for a swing-set. We set up a nursery, bought the layette, went to the prescribed childbirth classes, read, read, and read about parenthood. But the changes didn't stop there, extending even to our souls. Our little model of the Holy Spirit would instill in us a desire to become more transparent and become perfect role models for her. We began to talk about our faults more openly and ask each other for help in overcoming them before the baby saw them. My husband gave up smoking. I became more mindful of my speech, which is a definite work in progress. I corrected one of my children the other day after hearing her speak nastily to her sister, "Mommy doesn't care for that phrase!' The stinging reply shot back quickly, "Yes, you do! You say it all the time!" Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks like a gentle whisper, sometimes like a gale-force wind. At any rate, the children in a family force us to see ourselves as we are and give us the intense desire to change quickly.
Before our children were born, my husband and I would often remark that the "Mommies" in our extended family often spoke as if they had forgotten their very dignity and had reverted to childhood themselves. I would have none of that! No way would I ever speak in that sing-song fashion and play those silly games. NEVER would I wear those unfashionable clothes and carry that enormous sack full of stuff everywhere. I dreaded their conversations which always revolved around laundry and storybooks. That was just not me; that is, not yet.
Children, I have come to understand, prioritize quite differently. They don't care about fashion or dignity. They care about butterflies and mud puddles, snuggling and nap time, and everything else comes to them besides. Then they grow up. They forget how to be still, how to roll down a hill, to jump on the bed after their bath, to enjoy the sunshine, or how a crisp apple smells. They forget more and more and more of the joys of life until the Holy Spirit, in the form of their own children, gently and lovingly force them back to reality.
Often I send my son to the garden to pick something for dinner and wait, and wait, and wait for him to return with it, only to find that he has found a cricket on the way and has followed him around the yard, cucumber in hand. Do I reprimand him for not sticking to the task, or do I join him in contemplating the creation of such a fine jumper? I often think that I would have never seen another cricket in my life had I not had this child. I would have never looked at the prisms of sunlight through the clouds on a cold day, nor would I have never again skipped rope, nor would I know the words to "Jesus Loves Me.” When the children ask such profound questions such as "Why do we have seasons?" "Do angels really have wings?" or "Why doesn't God just stop the bad guys?" I am forced to contemplate and at least try to answer them. I am inspired. How great is our God that in His mercy He gives humanity another chance to see clearly!
Those sing-song-y rhythms that I used to detest have become my joy and the foundation for my prayers. Imagine that! My children have slowed down the cadence of my life, slowly and methodically detaching me from what I used to think of as indispensable and replacing it with nothing but them. The Spirit cleanses.
Long gone is "dry clean only"; it has been replaced with simple and launderable cotton.
Long gone is the power lunch; it has been replaced with mac and cheese.
Long gone are the professional journals; they are replaced with curriculum catalogs.
Out with the complex and in with a simple and joyful life. Without the presence of the Spirit, in the form of my children, I would still be floundering in search of something that does not exist. I am focused on what is essential now and can clearly see the direction that God wishes for me to go. As my children grow strong and sturdy, steadily toward adulthood, particularly as my little baby girl has grown, married, and now awaits the birth of her own little girl, my soul contemplates the next generation of children to grace our family. I marvel that God had ordained that just when each generation needs reminding of the simplicity of the spiritual journey of life, another breath of fresh air is sent to them in the form of our children and grandchildren, and I look forward to refining all that precious wisdom yet again through her.