Dear Baby Girl,
You’re 9 months old now, and you are nothing but a joy. You babble constantly, interspersing a few words intelligible to me in the midst of your own private language. You crawl and try to stand up. You enchant everyone you meet with your vivacious personality and cuteness.
I wish I could say that in this season, all I’m doing is relishing in your adorableness. The truth is, Baby Girl, that I’m in a season of unexpected pain. I wake up in the morning feeling its heaviness descend on me before I even remember what caused it. I go to bed wondering if the next day will be the same.
I’m learning how to be a parent in this season. I never meant to let you see me cry. Of course, when you were born and I held you while the midwives repaired the carnage, crying was pretty much the first thing you ever saw me do. At first, I didn’t mind crying in front of you, because I realized that you didn’t notice the difference. But now, as I see the glimmers of empathy emerging in your character, I worry. Will letting you see me cry scar you? Will it make you feel like I don’t love you enough?
The other day, you and I were sitting at the table, eating our lunch, and I started crying. You looked at me curiously, as if to say, “What’s the matter, Mommy?” I said to you, “Mommy’s fine, Baby Girl. Nothing’s wrong.”
Then I realized that was complete bull#$%@. I was lying to you about my feelings. The last thing I want to teach you is that you have to pretend everything is okay. I don’t want you to think that the only acceptable feelings are those that are social media-worthy. I study biblical lament, after all…what was I thinking?
So here’s what I want you to learn from me, for those moments of your life when you, too, will climb emotional mountains you never thought you’d face.
I want you to know that there’s no shame in your tears. I’m guessing that you, like me, carry big emotions. While not every moment may be the most opportune for their expression, your feelings are worthy. Empower yourself to find the space in your life to let them run their course.
I want you to know that we worship a God with whom we can entrust the totality of our beings, who does not wince in fear or disgust at the sight of our most jagged places of brokenness. God does not reject our grief, but holds it and shares it in his own being. In taking on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, God committed to sharing fully in an existence marred by pain of all kinds. We can trust the Christ who cried, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” not only to accept our deepest hurts but also to weep along with us.
I want you to know that no matter how long or painful the night is, morning is coming. Sometimes the movement of our God is almost imperceptible, like that moment when the world hovers between winter and spring–winter’s chill is still in the air even while the first flowers of spring are blossoming. But even now, I believe the final victory over all that breaks us is already won, and the full unfolding of God’s restoration will come upon us.
Next time you see me crying, I’ll say to you, “I’m not okay right now, Baby Girl. But one day, all will be well.” And I’ll hold you in my arms until the tears pass.