When you are about to welcome a baby into the world, there are a handful of things you think about very often. Like, what will pushing a human being out of a very small hole feel like, for example. Or how do I keep a baby alive once the nurses, doctors, and experienced mothers are gone? Will the cats attack the baby or will they ignore her as if she doesn’t exist? Am I ever going to be able to wear normal pants again? Did I register for the right bassinet? Will her crib keep her safe? And what about the bottles I chose? She will probably hate them. These are the things that keep me up at night.
Maybe it’s because we are nearing the end (9 weeks or less) or because my emotions are more out of whack than they’ve been this whole pregnancy, but lately my mind has drifted to scarier things that are far more important than my fears of buying the wrong baby carrier. Things like what type of person she will become and how she will treat people when she’s older. What do I want to teach her and show her as her momma and how can Spencer lessen the amount of daddy issues I am terrified she might have? How will we discipline her yet show her we love her just the same? What will we fight about when she’s a teenager? How can I be her closest companion but her parent at the same time?
I’ve never had to worry about someone else’s well-being or development the way I find myself worrying about our girl. This must be what every new parent walks through, an unknown world of emotions you didn’t realize you could feel for someone you haven’t even met yet (well, face-to-face anyway). What a conundrum.
Someone’s character, their values and morals, the way they treat others—I feel that these are all things we learn in the home. Sure, school, life experiences, and our own convictions play a part, and I also know a person can become whoever they want to be despite their upbringing. But I think it’s naïve to think that a person’s home and family life, especially during childhood and adolescence, doesn’t impact who that person becomes as an adult. So in knowing this I am petrified of the heavy weight that is this responsibility.
It hit me the other day that her character isn’t something I can take back to Buy Buy Baby if I don’t like it. The time and effort I put into her registry doesn’t compare to the time and effort I should put into teaching, showing, discipling, and most importantly, forgiving her. How easy it has been to get caught up in all the baby things that we “need” rather than how we will parent, nurture, and love our daughter. Surely the amount we spend on a stroller will not determine her happiness in life.
Spencer and I have talked a lot lately about the intentions of the heart. Many different circumstances have spurred these talks, and we keep coming back to this idea that the “why” is more important than the “what”. Focusing on what someone does or doesn’t do is quite simply legalism, and especially as Christians, we seem to hold so tightly to the fruit or lack of fruit someone might produce. We judge their decisions and their points of view, regarding them as sinful or wrong, and rightly so in some cases. However, we forget to look at the “why”. Why is this person making that decision? Why do they believe what they believe? Rarely do we take the time to look at the intention of the heart, yet we’re so very quick to look at the fruit they bear. Spencer says all the time that we judge people by their actions yet judge ourselves by our intentions. What a wise man I’ve married.
I guess my point in all of this is that I want to teach this baby girl growing in my belly that the “why” is what really matters. Sure, what we do is important and I don’t want to neglect that fact. But I don’t want her to be so caught up in the “what” that she misses the “why”. Much like I don’t want to be caught up in what my daughter does or doesn’t do, but be concerned with why she does or doesn’t do it. Understanding the “why” brings an understanding of someone’s heart, and understanding the state of someone’s heart is the beginning of so many good things.
Jesus has already taught us that by our works we will not be saved. What we do does not save us or redeem us or make us more holy. Romans 3 explains it perfectly, “God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.”
Having faith in him sets us in the clear. Not our works—not what we do or don’t do.
I want to teach her to care about people’s hearts. I want her to see past what people do and the decisions they make based on their brokenness. I want her to know that the state of her heart is more important than the state of her popularity. I want her to nurture her heart through faithful obedience and love for God and others, not her pride of good works and reputation. And most importantly, I want her to be able to lay down her own will and desires one day in order to accept the grace and freedom that Christ offers her, without restraint or concern for if she is worthy for him, knowing that even her best attempts are not enough to become clean. But Jesus? He is enough.
So as I sit in her nursery, surrounded by overly researched baby gear and too many baby clothes, I am reminded that the person she becomes will begin in the four walls of this room, this home. And that when I want to get caught up in the “what” through the years of her life that lay ahead, I pray I’ll remember that the “why” is most important.