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"It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us."
- Charles Dickens
It took me awhile to formulate my thoughts for this post, and I hope they don't come out too jumbled and confused. It's something that's kind of hard to put into words, but I'll try.
With the beginning of another pregnancy, I have taken some time to reflect on the gift of another child and what it means to be a mother. I have thought a lot about what it was like to give birth to my other two children, and on those early days of their infancy. I smile at memories of my own insecurities, and I know that I probably still have those same insecurities. But the thoughts of those days that seem to have the most power are the feelings of awe I had at the little miracles I had been blessed with.
In those early days, amidst the constant feedings, diaper changes, and screaming fits (theirs and mine!), I was always just in awe at how perfect and wonderful my children were. I am not saying this to be conceited- I truly believe all newborns are perfect and wonderful! And the reason for that is that they are coming to us straight from the presence of our Father in Heaven. I remember looking into my little ones' eyes and just wondering, "What was it like? How did it feel?" and most importantly, "How can I possibly give you a home to compare to the home you just left?"
In Spiritual Sundays: You're Getting Warmer, I discussed the "light of Christ" and described it as, "a little tracking beacon that we each have that reminds us where we came from." I believe that when babies are born, they not only have this "tracking beacon", but they are so untarnished and fresh from our Father's presence that they practically are the beacon! I remember when my son was maybe a month old, and he was fussy. He didn't want to sleep and he didn't want to eat so I decided to just take him for a little walk around the house. We have several pictures of Christ up on the walls, including one of Christ looking out over Jerusalem. I had shown little Monkey all of the family photos, given him a look at himself in the mirror, but it wasn't until we reached the picture of Christ that he showed any kind of reaction. He suddenly got very wiggly, almost like he was trying to climb up me to get to the picture. He was transfixed, and suddenly began babbling in his just-budding baby language. I remember just stopping, watching him in amazement, and dying to know what on earth (or in heaven?) he was saying to his Savior.
Now, I don't necessarily believe that Monkey actually recognized the face of our Savior- we don't know what He looks like and it would be a stretch to say that the artist of that painting depicted His image perfectly. But I do believe that that painting was created with the Spirit of the Lord, and that although babies cannot speak, the one thing they can recognize and communicate is that Spirit. I believe that is why a mother cries in joy holding her infant- because the Spirit comes through that child so strongly that she cannot help but feel it. I know that I have.
So back to my original, most pressing question for my little ones- "How can I possibly give you a home to compare to the home you just left?" Well, it would be nice if we could spend the whole day strolling around the house staring at pictures of Christ, but for most of us, that's not realistic. I could go on about giving our children a good foundation, and about making our homes places where the Spirit of God can dwell, but I pretty much covered those in Preparing and Protecting Our Children and Making Home a Sanctuary, respectively. I think that the most important thing to focus on is simply the reminder for us that our children are from God. Not a gift that He found while out shopping and stuck in box and wrapped up and gave us, but from God- of God- handmade with care by Him with all His love, goodness, and mercy, and bestowed to us lovingly and with great expectations. I firmly believe that it is up to us to remember that He has given them to us in mint condition, full of His spirit and His potential, and it is up to us to return them to Him better than we received them.
That seems like an impossible task at times, I will be the first to admit. With the day to day struggles of merely keeping them clean, safe, and moderately well-behaved, that light that they came here with naturally begins to fade. But I think that the important thing is that we help them brighten it regularly. We need to give them those opportunities to remember where they came from, and to "feel warmer" as I discussed in You're Getting Warmer. As the veil between their Heavenly home and this world starts to thicken, they need those reminders ever more often. For certain, we need to create a sanctuary for them in our homes, where their lights can shine, but we also need to have those teaching moments with them, and show them of our love for the scriptures, and help them to learn to love the scriptures. We need to ask them important questions, regardless of whether or not we think they have the answers. I remember one day in a morning devotional with my 4-year-old son, I was teaching them the principle of how we are all created in the image of God, and only half-thinking about the question, I asked him why He thought God made us to be just like Him. I didn't really know the answer, and I didn't think he did either, but then he said, "Well, I think that Heavenly Father wanted a family. And I think He loves us and wanted all of us to be a part of His family." I was so taken aback by his words that I had to stop for a moment, marvelling at the pure simplicity and truth in his answer. You never know how much they know. And neither will they unless you give them the opportunity to share it.
Again, this is a tall order for us as parents. And it will not always be easy and it will not always be what we want it to be. But I believe that if we keep making the effort to remind our children of their divine parenthood, then that Divine Parenthood will give us a hand. We must nurture the light in each of our children, that they may always remember the Father from whose presence they came that day when they were placed in our arms. I feel so privileged and so humbled that the Lord has seen fit to bless me with the two I have, and I am even more humbled to be about to receive another of His blessings in 7 more months. I pray that I can nurture their light every day, and that I can always remember the gift that they are. I pray the same for each of you.