All mothers think that their babies are special. As a young and insecure mom, I was really hung up on this concept of specialness. I constantly compared my kids to other people's kids, reassuring myself that my kids were at least a little bit above average in every way, if not off the charts. They were smarter, more beautiful, more agile, more alert, more talented, more promising in every area -- they had to be. I forget why, exactly, I felt that way; but I was completely in that feeling's thrall. I even felt slightly scornful of people who went ga-ga over some other, inferior baby's big blue eyes, as if blue were a good color for a baby's eyes, for goodness sake, when clearly brown is the best color. (You know true, because all my babies have brown eyes.)
I got over it. Here I am, a week away from celebrating my ninth baby's first birthday, and I can report, with relief and delight, that this kid is nothing special.
Well, of course she's special. But I mean, she does all the things she's supposed to do at her age,and no more. She seems pretty bright, and she's sociable, and has a sense of humor, but she's not especially advanced for her age. She's dabbling in walking upright, and can take as many as three steps if she feels like it; but she'd just as soon scoot around on the floor and chew on stuff. We think maybe she says "Mama" and "Dada," and possibly "hey," but it's also possible she's just making noise.
She's smaller than most of my other kids, and while she's awfully cute, she doesn't stop people in their tracks in the supermarket. She has medium brown hair that curls a little bit, and, I don't know, she's cute. I like to look at her and her little tummy.
In fact, I never get tired of looking at her, because she is mine. I would die for her, because she is mine.
But I can also see that other babies are just as adorable as she is, objectively speaking. Even the bald ones! Even the ones who haven't gotten their teeth in yet! And the skinny ones, and the ones with big noses. Some of them are really gorgeous, and some of them are kind of funny-looking, but all of them are nice. I really like babies, and I like to look at all of them. Loving my own baby has helped me to see all babies with love.
Of course I prefer my own baby; but I don't feel like I have to hunt up some reason why she's the best. I love her the best because she's mine, and that's enough.
This morning, as she snuggled into my lap for her second breakfast, I opened my email and saw today's installment of the Catechism from Flocknote. And what did it say?
What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.
357 Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.
Maybe you've seen that bumper sticker that says, "God loves you. Then again, He loves everybody." I always get a giggle out of it. But actually, it's more than a snarky message--it's onto something. God loves everybody. He loves everybody as if they were His only child. He would die for us, because we are His.
It's not that He has low standards or somehow doesn't notice our cruddy side. And it's not that He can see and appreciate our talents and gifts and achievements, and loves us because of them. He loves each one of us for something better than that: because we are His. That is what I am: His; and He loves me for it.
This idea used to sound so empty to me. How is that a good thing, to be loved just because of who you are--if "who you are" is something completely out of your control? Isn't it better to be loved for what you've made of yourself, or what you're capable of?
Well, that's how humans love, most of the time. But when we have children--especially when they are young and still entirely innocent!--it's a little bit easier to grasp, if only for a second, how much wider is God's love for us. Our value is not limited by what we can make of ourselves, thank God.
358 God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him:
What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honor? It is man that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes of God than all other creatures! For him the heavens and the earth, the sea and all the rest of creation exist. God attached so much importance to his salvation that he did not spare his own Son for the sake of man. Nor does he ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until he has raised man up to himself and made him sit at his right hand.
When we are loved solely for who we are, for how we are made, then there is nothing that can make God stop loving us. That is what you call a good deal. I'll take it.