I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this, but when I first saw my first-born, placed on my belly, my first thought was “What is this thing?” Honest to goodness. Maybe it was the 40 hours of labor with no food or sleep, but it felt like someone dropped a little alien on me. They don’t come out looking like Gerber babies. Babies are scary!
I had read up on babies, but that was as useful as reading up on surgery. It’s a whole different story when someone throws a human at you and says “Have at it!” They’re so fragile and different.
I tripped and stumbled along, keeping her alive, wrestling with my own preconceived notions about babies, the human condition, and the burden of having responsibility for another soul.
I knew I wanted to have a healthy relationship built on trust, love, and compassion, but when does that start? How is it developed?
Looking back, I have come to believe the connection starts right away. What you do from the beginning matters. The relationship grows and takes shape as you travel on a journey through the unique stages of child development discovering and re-discovering who your child is alongside them.
We aren’t left without insight from the Bible. The Gospels tell of a time when Jesus was being followed by large crowds, speaking to and healing them as he went. But when the people brought little children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. To the disciples, these little children were in the way of more important people and activities.
Jesus called it differently, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
It’s easy to cast children aside, to think of them as less important. But Jesus esteems, welcomes, and protects children. He sees their value, their humility, faith, sense of wonder, curiosity, and innocent mindedness.
In I Cor 14:20 Paul says, “In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
Little children have less experience with evil, they haven’t learned yet to distrust, put up walls, become cynical, or self-righteous. In fact, studies show that during the first few months a baby thinks he’s just an appendage of the mother! It isn’t until 15-24 months that a child begins to understand that he is an individual and begins to experience new emotions such as embarrassment and envy.
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So I don’t think babies are all that scary anymore. OK, maybe just a little. They are so fragile, needy, and demanding. They so arrive as little aliens, new to this planet and way of life. But, I think, if we have the perspective of Christ, then we will see their beauty more profoundly. We can receive them with open, even if nervous, arms and learn wondrous things from their fresh little perspectives.