Friday, January 20, 2017

Sappy Mom Stuff

This past Sunday our son Isaiah was baptized. If you've ever laid eyes on my child before, you'd know that he is objectively the cutest baby of all time, so I naturally giggled and stared at him endlessly and took a thousand pictures of him in his bowtie. However, I also was moved by how sobering the experience ended up being for me. 

Presenting him to our church and asking them to make vows on his behalf-- "will you do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?"-- was a surprisingly vulnerable moment. And presenting him to God and making vows of my own-- "will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?"-- was humbling. 

In the aftermath, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with Isaiah, for him to read one day (once he can read :) Writing this little letter to him reminded me of the words I wish I could now read from my own father who has left this place; but it also reminded me of all those who have been raised in the Church and who are not sure what their baptism might or might not mean to them now. So I share this letter with you on behalf of sappy moms everywhere. 


My Son, 

On Sunday, January 15th, 2017, you were baptized at Truro Anglican Church. There is so much I could say about it! Your grandparents were all there. Your godmother Kate flew in. She-- and all of us-- took vows on your behalf. It was a humbling and sobering privilege to pledge before God to "do all in our power" to support you in your life in Christ. 

My precious son, I know I have and will fall painfully short of living up to this vow. I am so sorry for the times I let you down-- the times I fail to love, to model and point to the good; for the times I am selfish or proud or hardened toward you and toward the world. I ask for your forgiveness and I invite you to take whatever pain I've caused to our Lord. He alone is the perfect father, the perfect mother, the perfect friend. He is the Source and Perfection of my love for you, and He alone is your hope. 

My sweet son, I hope to devote my life to showing you the beauty of Christ by my words and actions. He has given you everything, including His very self: "this is my body, broken for you." He is the great treasure to lay hold of in this life. We long for you to respond to His grace and make Him your own, just as He has made you His-- but the choice is yours. Every day for as long as you live, He offers Himself to you. No matter what you have done, how much you have strayed, how much you doubt. He is the Rock from which you were hewn, and there is no shadow of change with Him. In all your wanderings, He is your home. 

I know from experience that we-- your physical parents-- may not always be here for you. As much as we want to be, we might not have that privilege. But we are not your hope, my son. He is. Look to Him. 

I love you so much,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sex, Politics & Religion in (My) 2016

2016, it’s been wild. I’ve got way too many thoughts to write anything coherent, so I’m going to share some of the highlights. I’ll keep it light by touching on sex, politics, and religion.

Sex: This year I got pregnant for the first time. And I was a little scared. I theoretically wanted children, but honestly was a bit hesitant about following through. God in His great wisdom gave me the gift I was not yet asking for, and it has changed my life. Now when I hold my son I think, what was I so scared of? Losing sleep? Losing freedom? Getting fat? Falling behind in my career? Well, in a way, all of those fears have come to fruition. And yet on the other side of them, it seems that they were all like smoke-screens: illusions designed to keep me from seeing the truth that human life is the greatest treasure imaginable. The infinite worth of my child and the joy I experience in knowing him has brought my fears to nothing. To give my life to and for another is the reason I was put on this earth.

Politics: It is impossible to say anything on this subject without making someone uncomfortable or upset, and yet this dovetails with what I’ve learned in the past year about politics: It is good to disagree. It is good to have real dialogue and to really try to hear and understand the perspective of the other. It is a good and humbling discipline to move toward my perceived opponent instead of ranting in my echo chamber. Michael and I have said on multiple occasions this year that we feel fortunate to have real friends on both sides of the political spectrum. We respect and admire people who voted differently from each other, and who voted differently from us. One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep listening to people of various perspectives and to seek to be a person who can stand in the gap between increasingly polarized communities. Because the truth is, I see Jesus in both of them. And he Himself stood in the gap to tear down the dividing wall of hostility between brothers.

Religion: One word I’ve repeatedly spoken this year is, “why?” Why did my friend have to bury her mother? Why did another lose her baby? Why are some countries ripped to sheds while others enjoy decades of prosperity? It seems that in the here and now, there are no straight lines. The healthiest people get cancer and die. The holiest mothers remain infertile. Innocent families watch their neighborhoods get blown to bits. It is an illusion to think that if I play by the rules that I will somehow be immune to the effects of evil. It is an illusion to think that I can make sense of what happens to me or to the people I love. There are no straight lines. 

This year perhaps more than any other, I’ve realized that my hope cannot be not found in a religious system or a spiritual formula that promises certain outcomes if I behave the right way. This year I’ve realized that my hope—and the hope of the world—is in the person of Jesus. And Jesus doesn’t hand out a chart which can be used to dispassionately analyze or explain away suffering; instead, He gives Himself. To the point of death. God entered into the chaos of our pain— He knows what it is to ask “why (have you forsaken me?)”—and by His Cross He has redeemed the world.  

What about you? What are some of your big takeaways from 2016? Anything I've said here you disagree with? Let's talk about it over coffee!