My daughter Rosie came into the world at 4:55am on a Thursday morning. Her pink face was scrunched up and she laid on my chest squinting into the dim light while I gave her her very first snuggle. The picture my husband took of that first embrace shows me with a serenely happy expression, while Rosie is the picture of the word disgruntled, all wrinkles and pink skin with a striped hospital hat covering her mass of dark hair to keep her warm. She was so new and so small and everything from lights, to sounds, to what little she could see, to the feeling of air and breathing, were all alarmingly unfamiliar. Everything, except me. My voice and my heartbeat right under her little head were things she had known for all her life inside the womb. I was Mommy, and I was safe. I knew she knew me then as I had known she knew me in the womb. And I wondered, is this how God sees us, His children? So new and helpless, blind and knowing, in our very bones, that we are His? Does He rejoice so deeply and so tenderly for the birth of every new Christian – perhaps, for the birth of every new human?
Rosie depended on me for everything. The first few weeks of her life were filled with new and scary sensations. Diaper changing, cold wipes, hunger, trying to fall asleep, laying in a crib apart from Mommy at night. Her cries were heartbreaking. She cried because she had no other way of expressing anything she felt. The little frown furrowing her brows lingered as if wondering whether or not coming to the outside world had really been that great of an idea. My husband would change her at night and she would cry and cry and it made him feel awful, but there was no way for us to explain to her what was happening. We just had to do it, in spite of her protests.
It reminded me of God’s tender care for us in His vast knowledge. Hearing our confusion, our fear, our pain, and continuing with what is best for us, perhaps seeming silent when it is only that there is no way for Him to convey to us what is happening and why, simply because we are incapable of understanding that level of knowledge. And as much as we loved to take care of our little girl, so He must love to take care of us, His compassion for us boundless.
As she grew older, there came the fateful day when Rosie discovered her will. She found out that she wanted things that Mommy said she could not have, to go places she wasn’t allowed. At first she was confused that I stopped her from crawling to the base of the bookshelf in the corner, but after a few times she learned that I did not want her to go that way. I knew she knew when, after having given up once already, she crawled back towards the shelf, paused, and looked at me, before deliberately continuing forward. So again, I stopped her. Ah, but now she knew what she wanted, and she loudly expressed her displeasure with my restrictions. She was equally as upset with my boundary for the living room door, and for the other corner where the television and lamp cords were tucked temptingly behind the television stand, as well as for the tall lamp itself. Why wasn’t she allowed to play with those? She acted as though my rules were unfair. Unneeded. But the bookshelf could be tipped over, and there were stairs leading downwards right across the hall outside the living room, the cords could shock her, and the lamp could be pulled onto her head. But Rosie knew little of gravity and nothing of electricity. She didn’t understand the cause and effect of her own actions or that anything was unsafe. She only wanted to explore. Patiently, I kept her from reaching anything dangerous. Over and over and over despite her angry protests and tears over the perceived injustice. She was still too young to understand why, so instead I taught her to obey despite not knowing why. The innocence of her newborn tears had become the frustration of willful disobedience. But just as she had when she was first born, she needed to learn to trust me. I made rules for a reason whether she could comprehend those reasons or not.
I understood, then, God’s patience, and His commands for obedience. There is no way for us to fully understand the reasons behind God’s rules, but we learn, over time, to respect them anyway. And I began to take great comfort in knowing that if I was willing to gently rebuke my own daughter over and over and over for the very same offense – it did become somewhat amusing at times that she would still try to get away with things even though she hadn’t once succeeded – then how much moreso does God do so for us? He calls us His children, He our father. He watches us willfully commit the same sins over and over and gently but firmly He rebukes is. We wonder, how could He forgive me again? Now I know why; because He loves us, He is invested in teaching us to trust Him, and so does not grow weary but rather understands what we can’t, and that is that life is so much bigger than we are able to see. But He sees, and He guides us until the day we will see more clearly like Him.
From the day Rosie was born, to her first birthday, and every day afterwards, she has been a joy to us. I look forward to seeing her face every morning more than I look forward to seeing the sunlight through my window. Loving her fills me to bursting; I feel as though my heart is tugging at its seams just to contain it. Every little thing she does, the sounds she makes, her movements, her little round shape, her wild hair and stormy blue eyes, every one of her expressions from her grin to her concentrated frown, brings me great joy. Her very existence blesses me. Even now, when she can’t say I Love You, she can’t say Thank You, she can’t wash dishes or clean her room, and she doesn’t always want to snuggle. Even now when she can give me so little, she gives me so much.
That, I know now, is how God loves us. And that is what my daughter has taught me in just one year of life. She has pointed me to God in so many ways, ways I never could have truly understood without her.
So, my lovely daughter, my precious Rosie, thank you. You make my mind run back up the sunbeam to the sun; as surely as God is the sun, my love, you are the sunbeam. Right now you are too young to know how deeply you have touched me and how much your life has made me grow, but someday, I pray, you will know. God will show you His face and His heart as He has shown me. Mommy loves you very much.
And my dearest, precious Lord, thank you for loving me, your daughter, and thank you for giving me this beautiful glimpse of your face. Thank you for the tiny hands that push me ever more into your great ones. Thank you for my sunbeam.