The further I venture into Motherhood, the more often I find that God has so sweetly given mamas a unique perspective on His relationship with us. I wrote this back when Samuel was still nursing, but I still look back on those memories with fondness, and gratefulness for the gift of that experience. I know that not all women are able to breastfeed their babes for a variety of reasons, and I understand there can be some hurt there for some who feel they may have “missed out.” My encouragement for those mothers is to remember that you are precious in the Lord’s sight, and your value as a mother is not determined by the things you do, but the price Jesus paid for you.
Tiny, new little body swaddled in my arms, resting after hours of laboring together to birth from the darkness into light. Smooshed little face, eyes wide and alert, belly hungry and slowly he turns, rooting. I tell him to “Open wide, baby boy…” He tries to latch, but it’s shallow – I know the clicking sound from his tongue means that something is not quite right. We need to start over and try again.
I stroke his cheek a bit with my finger, inciting reflexes that open his mouth as wide as tiny lips can open. He lets out a panicky, frustrated whimper. I remind him, “just open wide, and you can eat, sweet baby!” And just when the desire to give up and desperation for nourishment meet, he opens vulnerably wiiiiiide, and… latches. Oh, that sweet relief when babies get the right latch! He drinks the colostrum, the rich milk to work in his little insides to move the yucky, black tar of the womb-self out of his system.
In the days that follow, he cries often for more, and I hurry to him. He opens wide (now only occasionally needing to be reminded the proper way to latch on), and he eats his fill; the tiny, walnut-sized stomach now full of rich nourishment. He rests deep in the milk-coma and I can’t help but smile on him. I delight to meet his needs; to be the one he needs.
Am I so different? The moments of emptiness come often in my day- I’m out of patience, out of energy, out of drive, out of… fruit. Who can live without sustenance? Who can live long on one meal? I have to come back to the arms of Christ, back to the supper table, again and again. Maybe just for a small portion at a time. One verse to recall. One name of God to ponder. One overarching Truth to dwell on and let dwell within me. And when I “run out”, I cry for more. And the Lord comes to me, ready to fill. But do I know how to receive from Him?
“Open your mouth wide and I will fill it…”
Opening wide requires vulnerability and acknowledges dependence.
Opening wide lets go of idols and inhibitions.
Wide open needs.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” -1 Peter 2:2-3
We approach him with our hands and hearts (and mouths?) wide open, and He promises to fill. With forgiveness, with grace, with love, with unwavering faithfulness. And as He fills, the pure spiritual milk grows us from deep within, moving the icky blackness of our old self out to make room for the new. That nourishment builds our core that keeps us upright and branches into limbs and capillaries of functioning – crawling, walking, stumbling, running – love. The only thing required of us is emptiness and thirst. And when we cry to Him, does He not come to our side?
As we grow, new depths of Truth are introduced. And though we always must return to our newborn-needy state, we also move on to the “solid food for the mature.” This takes time and gentle patience, slowly introducing and internalizing the new. And though my baby grows and is ready to be fed solids, the approach – the mantra – stays the same. I pop the top off the little jar, dip in the baby spoon and tell my sweet son once again, “Open wide!”
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”