Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Having a Baby Changed Me

Us on Thanksgiving, right before we walked downstairs.
I wrote a couple of months ago about how having a baby didn't change me

But on Thanksgiving night, I found one way that it did. And I've been thinking about it ever since.

Josh, August, and I spent Thanksgiving with dear friends and their family. It was a proper Friendsgiving with three generations present, way too much food, and the familiarity of faces we have known in many different contexts. It was lovely.

Josh, August, and I left their apartment in the dark of evening. We walked down the stairs and stepped into the brisk night air. I carried August, wrapped in a blanket. Josh carried our bags. 

We walked down a small path from their apartment building to where we were parked. On this path, we passed a homeless man, lying under a blanket. He looked as if he was trying to sleep.

As a former New Yorker, I have been conditioned to more or less ignore the homeless. It might sound cold, but that is the reality of living in NYC for most people. If your heart goes out to every homeless person, you begin to unravel. They are simply too numerous. Perhaps you offer a Starbucks card or a granola bar, but you stay protected from the sadness of it. You shuffle on.

But on Thanksgiving, I walked past this man and could not ignore him. I could not. And I found that my heart was completely vulnerable to feeling the brokenness. It hit me like a cold wind.

As I clutched August, the thought that haunted me and would not let me drive off was, "He was somebody's baby, too." 

He was somebody's baby. 

And if my baby grew up and was in that situation, I would want everyone to stop and offer help. And if they couldn't help, I would at least want them to open themselves, to be vulnerable, rather than driving off into the night in their nice warm cars.

So, as it turns out, having a baby did change me. 

I wish I could tell you a nice story of how we were able to offer a lot of help. We weren't. I've been thinking about and praying for that man; his name was Jeff. 

Pray for him with me?

This all has me thinking a lot about how God sets us in families, and about how God himself was born into a family. We're all meant to have a place, to have people to whom we belong. And we're all meant to be cared for with love and attention. 

And oh, to be Mary on Good Friday. The heartbreak. 

I don't know where to go with all of this, but as you might be able to tell, my son has ripped my heart open in a new way.

Is that what children do? Just rip your heart open and leave you breathless?

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