Can I hold your baby?
I’d walk around from table to table at the church recreation center. I remember the donuts, the extraordinarily watered-down lemonade, and that one time mom and dad left all three of us kids behind thinking the other one had us, until that moment they realized neither of them had us. I think they pretty much felt like the world’s worst parents. Unbeknownst to them, we probably thought they were the BEST parents because I’m pretty sure we just ate another donut and waited.
I also remember the babies
I’d sorta creepily slither from table to table to find the newest baby to hold. Introduce myself to the mom, who’d I’d never met and then ask if I could hold their baby (COMPLETELY normal and appropriate I realize hindsight!)
This advent I set out to find my own personal meaning in the manger. I walked through what stars meant to me; what Mary on the back of a donkey means. I wrote my own personal letter to Joseph (which I never posted – I sorta had it out with Joseph and well, it felt like it was a conversation just between the two of us!). I signed myself up for drum lessons feeling like a drummer boy and I finally figured out what I have in common with smelly shepherds. I’ve committed my thoughts to the nativity for four weeks, examining all the characters…. All of them, all of them but the baby. I always thought baby Jesus was hope for the world because 30 years later he would die on a cross to cover my shitty sinny self. So what’s to it?
But I was starting to wonder if maybe God had a specific purpose, a deeper meaning than death on a cross. What did God want to reveal to me about A BABY.
He trusts me. I thought this week. He trusts me enough to hold his son in MY arms.
He trusted Mary, a human, with his son. So that means he trusts humanity enough with his son. And that means me, too, right? I mean, right?
So I picked up baby Jesus this week. I held him. I ooo’d and awed over him. I bounced him. And the God of the universe took his most vulnerable state with me.
And tonight, I’m just staring at the baby in my arms. And I’m wondering what else? Like I get it, God is vulnerable with us. Great. I get it. BUT WHAT ELSE? Why am I holding this baby, God? Take it back. I don’t need it. I’m fine.
And I heard this in the quiet of my heart: Kaylee, this is the year you grew up.
And God’s right.
You know, a friend of mine this year shared with me that he didn’t realize that growing up meant that the God of his youth would have to die. What he meant by that was as a child we’re taught to pray for chocolate and it will arrive, to pray for your remote control to just work if you hit it on the ottomon, to pray that your boyfriend who broke up with you would come back, to pray that your friend on the playground would pick you first in kickball. The God of our childhood “does it for us” and if he doesn’t, we just keep praying.
And those prayers just reveal our aches, our wants. I get it.
But then as you get older, you start to realize that in life you can get your own chocolate, that you can probably just swap out the batteries on the remote, that you can call your ex-boyfriend and see if there’s a way to reconcile OR breathe in and breathe out while you grieve, and that you can actually work on your kick so maybe you get picked first at kickball.
Put it this way. As you grow up you learn that you are in charge of you. I’m not talking miracles. Because those are real and true. The moments we can’t explain when the world seems pointed towards a certain inevitable ending and then all of a sudden it all just changes. That’s a miracle.
The part about you being in charge of you, well, I just think that we hide a lot behind God – we ask - what does he want me to do? Instead of knowing that he trusts you to make the decision (that’s your free will going on right there!) Or if I keep praying, it’ll change. Instead of just being the change.
This year, I learned that I indeed have free will. I do. A lot of it. And it comes with great responsibility. But I’m in charge of it.
And this advent, the invitation to hold Baby Jesus is God’s way of honoring a year that taught me that I get to bring love, I get to choose love with everyone I meet (or not). He taught me that I don’t have to always sit and wait on him, but that he made me strong and wise and bold and courageous – and that he’s just with me in and through it all!
It can be a little scary for me. Sometimes I feel a little alone – like I feel the full weight of my decisions and actions. But I also feel a deep sense of respect from God. He loves me so much he never intended for me to stay where I was at. He’s a Father, and fathers guide us, teach us and applaud us. He’ll never abandon me – but he is going to teach me to ride a bike without training wheels...
And you? What parts of you is God inviting to grow up? What part of you has been waiting for an answer when the answer is already in you? What part of you is praying for love and hope and peace to permeate your home when you could just be love and hope and peace? What part of you is waiting for God to speak but God is waiting for you to act?
This Christmas, will you pick up the baby with me? We got this. We’re so free. He never promised it would be easy – just that he’d be with us through it all. He trusts you. He trusts you every single day. He trusts you to bring His light, His love into the world.
Love came down. And we picked it up!
Let Heaven and Earth Rejoice…