I lay down for my afternoon nap pondering all things baby and parenting. Maybe it was because I had just heard the Duggar's big announcement today that they are expecting their 20th baby. Maybe it was just the fact that I was curled around my own new little baby under my fluffy down blanket and feeling grateful. Who knows? But, as I dozed, as I do every afternoon religiously, I had a revelation about God--or rather about my relationship with Him. It's a little complicated, so take a little journey with me.
I don't own a lot of baby gear. No bouncy seats, jumpers, swings, walkers, baby gyms, or other baby apparatus. I did in the early days with our first few kids. But, over the years, rather than accumulating more baby stuff, we have less. At the moment we don't even have a crib in our house. So much of that stuff that I thought I needed so badly at the beginning of my mothering journey, I soon found to be more burden then blessing. It cluttered up the house, gave me one more thing to keep clean and, quite frankly, is not very attractive. Not that I'm huge on having a perfectly decorated house, it's just that I don't like things made of plastic.
But, what's worse is that I've found that each of those pieces of equipment was invented to replace me.
No really, it's true.
In some measure--small or great--each is merely a replacement parenting device.
River, just five weeks old, doesn't cry for a swing. He wants to be rocked in my arms because it reminds him of how he was rocked in my belly for nine months.
River doesn't need a bouncy seat that vibrates. What he wants is to feel my heartbeat and to hear my gentle humming.
River doesn't wake up from his nap thinking, "You know, I could go for some geometric shapes or some trademarked Disney characters swinging above my head." What he wants to see is my face, smiling at him, interacting with him and responding to his own attempts at communication.
As a parent it's far too easy to become reliant on that stuff and to offer it instead of my arms, my heartbeat, my voice, my face.
My baby wants me. Not the stuff. But, if I offer the counterfeit often enough, he could get used to it. Over time he may even prefer the plastic to flesh-and-blood. He might pick the artificial over the authentic.
His childhood is far too short to allow his affections to be shared with something that cannot give affection back.
While I pondered all these things and was about to climb on my moral high horse--during my nap time, mind you, I felt the Lord say, "Isn't that just like you?" (God doesn't fight fair, does He?)
There are a thousand things that fill my life that were invented (or at the very least permitted) to replace communing with God.
In truth, I don't really want or need the television, movies, radio, social networking, worrying over things I cannot change, trying to please people who don't really matter, fussing over what others might think about me, having petty disagreements with people over non-issues, religiosity. But, because I've spent so much time going to these things when I'm desiring communion, I've forgotten that they were merely a substitute for something greater and deeper and infinitely more meaningful.
How many things in my life are replacement God devices?
I shudder to think.
What I really need is God's arms, God's heartbeat, God's voice, God's face.
I've learned a lot about parenting from my children. A lot of what not-to-do. I've also seen God's will for me, played out in a thousand sessions of nursing my baby to sleep and listening to him breathe.
El-Shaddai. Literally, "The Many Breasted One".
He wants to nurse me to sleep and watch me rest, listening to me breathe. But, I'll have to give up the plastic for His Flesh and Blood. I need to choose the Authentic instead of the Artificial.