I was recently asked to share some reflections at a friend’s baby shower. Here’s a glimpse into what I talked about—and it’s a reminder not just for moms-to-be, but for anyone who feels like they’re in over their head.
My son Milo is now 20 months old, and there are two things you should know about him at this point in his life:
- He enjoys the sensation of freefalling.
- He has utter confidence that someone will catch him.
This is a rather dangerous combination. Here’s what this looks like: wherever Milo is, he finds the highest point in the room or on the playground and scampers to the top. Then he grins like he just won the baby lottery, reaches out his arms . . . and plummets off the edge.
So far Daniel and I have kept him alive for 617 days. But I have to admit my heart has gotten stuck in my throat more times than I can count.
Every time I catch my boy, I marvel at the way he squeals and grins, completely oblivious to the danger. As I try to calm my thumping heart, so many worries race through my head:
- What if next time I’m not fast enough to catch him?
- What if sometime I won’t see him when he’s about to jump?
- What if one day my arms won’t be strong enough to grab him?
One of the most terrifying and trust-building parts of parenting is that from the moment you hold your tiny bundle in your arms, you are met by two overwhelming realizations: 1) you love this little human being more than you ever thought possible, and 2) you are completely out of your depth.
You instinctively know that you will do whatever it takes to protect this little one, and simultaneously that the day will come when you won’t be able to. This is true when you put him in his car seat on your way home from the hospital and when he spikes his first fever and when you drop him off for your first day at preschool. As he gets older, there will be other things that hurt him—not just his body, but his mind and his heart and his soul too.
Motherhood has proven to me just how human I am. I am not all-powerful. I am not all-seeing. I am not always-present. But then I am reminded: there is someone who is all of those things. Your baby has a heavenly Father who is all-powerful, all-seeing, always-present. And that same heavenly Father is watching over that baby’s mom and dad too.
One of my favorite Scripture passages, especially these days, is from the end of Moses’ speech to the tribes of Israel before he dies:
There is no one like the God of Israel.
He rides across the heavens to help you,
across the skies in majestic splendor.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and his everlasting arms are under you.
I love that image of God’s everlasting arms—arms that have no beginning and no end. They will always be long enough to help your son. They will always be strong enough to grab him. They will never fail him; they will always be under him.
So whenever you feel out of your depth, remember that it’s not all up to you. God’s arms are everlasting. He will catch your son when he’s a baby, when he’s a daredevil toddler, when he’s a teenager, and for the rest of his life. And his arms will be under you, too.
Sharon Leavitt says
This was just the comfort my soul craved.
Your words are true
And I will trust that God’s arms are everlasting even as I, grieve the hurts my beautiful son has experienced, despite my best efforts.
Yes, Sharon. Praying that the Lord will redeem all the pain somehow and bring beauty from those ashes in a way we can’t comprehend now.
Kathy Bostrom says
I always love your posts, Stephanie. And how true this is, and never ending. I constantly have to “let go” of all my fears of the ways people and the world hurt my children, and other children. Having raised our three in the church, they learned early that they could reach out to others and do good in the world, by being kind, thoughtful, a listening ear, providing food and other resources, etc. In the midst of my worries and fears, they have become strong and loving adults who make the world a better place. You know our story. Even in the worst of times, we seek what is good, and for what we can be thankful. And we turn over our fears and do the best we can! Keep catching that beautiful son! Keep sharing your words! You make my world a better place to be.
Kathy, you are a model to me for loving your children and releasing them to the Father. May He continue to hold all of you in His everlasting arms!
Maggie Rowe says
Stephanie, I read your beautiful essay on God’s everlasting arms a month ago and am just now rereading it. I have always loved that passage in Deut. 33 and actually have it framed in my home office. And how I love reading about your boys and your spiritual discoveries as you mother them. Miss you, friend!
Thank you for your encouragement, Maggie! Miss you too!