"...Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you..."
I have thought about this verse from "Mary, Did You Know?" (enjoy this Kathy Matthea version...my favorite) a good deal over the past few weeks. Both in light of my visit to South Africa where I spent just more than two weeks with my daughter, and most recently after reading Laura's fascinating and thought-provoking post last week, "Book Review: Do you Know Who Your Children Are?" I am convinced that our children...who we think are put into our lives as helpless wee ones for us to care for...are really what will save us from ourselves.
As I sat with my daughter on the beach each day...or lay next to her at night before we fell asleep...it became so obvious that this daughter had been critical in giving birth to the best parts of the woman I have become. My love for her has demanded more honesty, integrity, courage, and true love...than any other person, place, activity, purpose, or thing in my entire life.
This child that I thought I would play a critical role in "raising"...has raised my expectations of myself. She has made me want to live in accord with higher standards of womanhood than I could ever even have imagined before she came along. She, and her sisters, are the reason I have persisted in my quest for a better understanding of grace. They are the impetus behind my struggle for a better sense of moral courage rather than a blanket acceptance of cultural paradigms that, in some ways, are as beloved...and defended... as hallowed sacraments.
My baby girl...who I love with every fiber of my being...came not just so that I would have someone to love and care for - and that she would have someone to love and care for her - but to make me new. She came to make me want to be new and fresh and wise and innocent and good...especially good...every day since her birth. She came to deliver me from any self-indulgent complacency with my own idiosyncrasies and peculiar way of doing things. She came to arrest my devolution into self-righteousness and pride. She came to remind me that I want to be better because I want to give her a better example of loving authentically and living with integrity.
My baby girl has walked on the unstable water of my mortal insecurities, frailties, and the wishy-washiness of opinions and demanded that I know my God and stand on Truth with absolute trust in His nature as Love...because I want it for her.
Whenever I have sought a true centering, an unwavering conviction that there is a God, it is my love for my daughters that I rest upon. This love is so overpowering that I have no response but to yield to its demand on me to be my most God-like. It has owned me from the day I knew that to "mother" was what I wanted more than anything else in the universe. This love has borne me, carried me into places I would never have gone unbidden from the moment I knew I was being asked to parent my first child. This love has strengthened my resolve when I felt like collapsing, released my rigid grasp when terror kept me holding on to something other than God, and caused me to surrender everything in fidelity to its call. This love is the one thing I am absolutely certain I had nothing to do with creating...and can do nothing to destroy. It is the thing that leaves me praying every moment of every day:
"Behold, the handmaid of the Lord,
be it unto me according to Thy will."
Dear Father-Mother God...thank you for these daughters, Your unspeakable gifts,