Maybe it happened in the labor and delivery room when I squeezed my husband's hands so tight they were sore the next day. Maybe it happened when I saw her for the first time. Maybe it was in the long nights that turned into weeks that turned into months without sleep. Maybe it was in the embrace of a life no one could have ever properly prepared me for. Maybe it was in the days where the only thing achieved was a happy baby.
This year, it's changed me.
Not simply in the absolute transformation of how I spend my days.
Not simply in the liberal amount of kisses I give.
Not simply in the fire my character has been taken through.
This year, this day-in and day-out abiding with my beloved child, it's changed me in the most profound and significant way: how I know and relate to God.
As I entered into the shared role of parent, my eyes were wide with hope for new revelation of the Father’s heart. I knew intellectually that my relationship with God would change, but only the experience of motherhood itself would reveal an area my heart desperately needed to face.
As I lay in bed the other night, tears softened the corners of my eyes. I praised God for the capacity He's given me to love my daughter. It's a love bigger than I felt capable of possessing. A love full of childlike wonder and awe, not wanting to miss any of the newness of life. A love that prompts the most genuine laughter over things that are likely not funny to anyone else. A love that wins out over my pride and pervades through mundane moments with hope for a giggle or better, a whisper from Love Himself.
It's a love that grieves when my mind is too full or too heavy to notice her, when I'm too concerned for self and miss her in the process. It's a love that cares about relationship, about the intimacy that's won in the nights and the long days of loving and serving and cherishing my baby girl.
The tears make their way to my pillow with haste as this gratitude pumps awareness of what this mother's love demonstrates about how God loves me.
For the last five years of my life, God has been revealing the mysteries of His holiness, His glory, and His willingness to enter into my suffering. I've been overcome with humility as I've grown in the fear of the LORD and in conviction to endure, to remain steadfast, to walk in faithfulness believing that God is worthy of every inch of my life's devotion.
Oh how needed this firm foundation for the breaking that is motherhood.
This, the most transformative year of my life, could be summarized by the overarching content of my prayers: “I need You.” The neediness that accompanies motherhood is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The demands on my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual stamina press beyond my ability daily.
I have never felt quite so vulnerable.
I have never felt quite so in need of holy and intimate comfort.
Strength, yes. Endurance, yes. Joy, yes. Hope, yes. These all make sense to me, that I would need them. But somehow, the gift of God's comfort, the comfort of Abba, escaped most, if not all, of my pre-mommy requests.
At some point in our life, we grow out of asking to be comforted. Only little ones request to be held while big girls and boys learn to be tough and find ways of coping with the disappointments and frustrations of the world around them.
But as we grow, our awareness of the Fall only deepens. Our experience of trial and pain and hardship increases, and whether we notice it or not, we start to numb that childlike inhibition and embrace independence as the best way to protect our fragile hearts from breaking.
We grow too used to finding comfort in this world. We start to believe we need a thick exterior to gain acceptance or approval. We don't want to be a burden to anyone. We live with our backs turned, glancing over our shoulder to say we're okay and kindly dismiss the beckoning of the Father to collapse in His everlasting arms.
And perhaps all that protection is really of the fear that if we express what we see in our hearts–those tender and hard to expose places–to others, especially God, we won’t be comforted; we'll be belittled, shamed, or rejected.
Our capacity to trust wanes with every sharp edge we face.
But in the dark nights when I hold my baby, in the moments when I scoop her up after a fall, in the long days when I sing to enrich daily life, when I give up everything to be there for her during sickness, when I hear myself saying, "I know, baby, I know," I believe with every fiber of my being that the safest place in all the world to her is in the comfort of her mother.
And in these ever-present experiences of motherhood, my own reality awakens, and I grow deeply aware of my innate need for comfort from my Father.
I sink deeper into my bed, as if letting down all my defenses, melting into the safe place of God Himself. I offer some of the richest tears I've cried, full of trust and tenderness. Rest seeps deep into my bones, the warm embrace of my Comforter.
Make me more like Harper, Abba. And I know He knows what I mean. More convinced of His delight over me. More willing to be comforted by Him. More content and at rest in knowing with deep conviction that I’m safe and secure in the everlasting, steadfast love of the Father.
Happy first birthday, my Harper girl. You’ve given me the greatest gift—intimacy with my Father. I know grace more because of you.
For anyone interested in Harper's birth story, I've linked it here.
Enjoy this too long slideshow of my full head of hair baby girl :)