I write often about the things my kids teach me. Through their words and actions they have taught me about kindness, about fun, about compassion, and about life. However, lately I’ve been thinking of the most important thing I ever learned from them – and that came when I held my first baby for the very first time.
I remember being in the hospital when my oldest was born. She was the first grandchild to be born on both sides of our family, and the first child among the majority of our friends. The hospital waiting room was full, and visitors were coming and going constantly, everyone eagerly awaiting and celebrating this new precious life.
I remember those hours leading up to her birth – the excitement, nervousness, fear and almost overwhelming anticipation. What would she look like? How were we going to take care of a baby? What kind of mom would I be? What if we didn’t bond? When would she be here, I had been waiting so long.
All of that – the voices, the people, the movement, the nurses and doctors – all of that disappeared the moment I held that little life in my arms for the very first time. That’s when I learned the biggest, most vital lesson that would impact the rest of my life.
I held that baby and I counted her little fingers and toes. I looked into her scrunchy face and marveled at the perfect curve of her cheek. The overwhelming love that filled me at that moment is indescribable. My whole being was focused on that one little body. It’s as if this huge tide of feeling that I had never experienced before welled up from somewhere inside and filled me to overflowing, spilling over onto this one tiny creature that had come from me. I’ve experienced that feeling four times in my life now, and each time it’s just as strong and overwhelming as that first time.
I’ll love you forever. I’ll take care of you and teach you and watch over you. I’ll protect you from everything that would try to hurt you. I’ll give you all of me for all of my life.
That moment is when I truly understood God’s gift to us in Jesus. That’s when I truly understood the miracle of Christmas. I held that baby against my heart, and John 3:16 floated through my head. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I wouldn’t give my child up for anyone. Not my husband, not my family, not my neighbor down the street. The most wonderful, kindest, loving person in the world could be standing in front of me needing me to give up my kid, and the answer would be no. Absolutely no. And I certainly wouldn’t give that child up for someone who had made mistakes. Who had lied or cheated or hurt others. I would say, “Too bad, so sad, you made your own bed.”
But God did. He gave his baby to someone else to hold. Someone else wiped his tears and kissed him goodnight. Someone else held his hand to cross the street and taught him to read. Someone else played with him and talked with him and walked next to him. And all too soon, someone else crucified him. And God watched it all, because that’s how much he loves us.
I understand that truth and the enormity of that now more than I ever did before. So this Christmas, as I watch my kids cook dinner with their dad, count the presents under the tree and dance to carols on the radio, I’m thanking my God. Thank you for your son. Thank you for giving him to me. Thank you for your overwhelming, overflowing love.