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by Grace Claus
Jennifer Holberg is away today. We thank and welcome Grace Claus. Grace is managing editor of RCA Today. She blogs at www.forsythiaroot.wordpress.com.
On the night she was born, our daughter slept on our chests. We were too terrified (and too worn out) to set her down elsewhere.
On her second night, as I was nursing her to sleep, it hit me that she was staying. No one would come and relieve us, tell us thanks and hand us a check. We were, for the first time—and for all time—parents.
We had no clue what we were doing, and we had little confidence. We had skipped the infant CPR class. We hadn’t read anything on sleep schedules or diaper rashes. For most of the weeks leading up to her birth, I fretted about the distant future: the years when we’d break each other’s hearts, the seasons when depression might roll in like a dark storm cloud over her spirit, the days when my failures as a mother would shame me.
Parenthood, I’d heard, was an exercise in self-sacrifice. We’d give up sleep for her, social activities, sanity. For her to have life, we’d sacrifice some of our own—sometimes in very literal ways: I’ve been sick more times in her four months of life than I am in most years, and I’m sure it’s because my immune system is working for both of us.
Some nights I roll into bed, exhausted and drained. I feel empty, like I’m actually hollow. For nine months, my body put all its energy toward building hers, and now its meager resources are devoted to making milk, which she gulps down with relish.
So the thing that has surprised me the most is how naturally we’ve slipped into parenthood. How easy it is to love her.
That greatest love Jesus talked about—the one where a man lays down his life for his friends—that love should be hard, right? We selfish humans should find it near impossible. Our natures should want to fight it.
And yet, for her, I’d lay down my life again and again. For her, I’d go to bed empty night after night. For her, I’d get sick over and over. It’s simple: I love her.
And I imagine that, for a similar reason, Christ was quite willing to empty himself, to lay down his life.
He loves us.
He takes great joy in us. He delights in watching us grow. He’s happy to give of himself to see us thrive.
Like parents everywhere, he’s probably skipping his evening run so he can take care of us. He probably has a stack of books he’s not getting to because he’s too busy rocking us to sleep.
We may never entirely comprehend what he has sacrificed on our behalf. Children never do.
But maybe we get glimpses.