My son turned five this week. The day passed with very little fanfare. He was excited, and we had a good time at the Magic House the day after his birthday. He has grown so much in the past few months. He's almost becoming unrecognizable to me. I remember his sister going through this phase a few years ago. It surprised me with her, too.
When I learned I was pregnant with this boy child, I was less than thrilled. I hadn't planned on another baby at that moment in my life. My life was chaotic and I had a lovely little girl who I had built my whole life around from the time she was born. She had just turned two when I found out I would have another child. I adjusted to the shock of the pregnancy, and soon I found myself excited about the arrival.
I had decided from the very beginning of my pregnancy that I was carrying another girl. My daughter had been such fun from the day she was born that I was very content to imagine another child just like her. When my husband and I went to our routine ultrasound 5 months into the pregnancy, our doctor announced we would have a son. I was stunned. And not at all happy. A boy? What did I know what to do with a male child? I knew how to fix hair and paint fingernails and buy frilly dresses.
Still, I adjusted to the idea of a tiny baby boy coming into my world. By the time my son arrived, I was ready to welcome him.
On April 21, 2006 he arrived and has joined his sister as one of the two people who are the most important to me. Now that he has decided to grow into a boy, and leave his baby-ness behind him, I find myself wondering where the years went. I wonder what I will do when he turns 10, 16, 20, 30? He is very much my life.
There's this longing that comes with children. It has taught me much about God. I thought I understood love and desire and fear and pain. But, really I knew very little about any of these things before my kids came to be. There's a song by the late Rich Mullins that I've been fascinated with for some time that has a line after talking about the world sort of falling away. The line is said with more than a little longing, "Can I be with you?" It's directed at God. But until I had children, I didn't really get it. Romantic love has never held me with as tight a grip as the love for my children does. While I've certainly been infatuated with, obsessed about, in love with...a few different men in my life. I've never felt that gut-level longing, can I be with you? for a man.
It seems to me that the God of my understanding, the one I've laid claim to, is just the sort of God who inspires that sort of longing for. I don't want the 'all powerful, distant, sometimes angry kind of' Father. I want the 'I feel the need for him in my bones' Father. I don't want some sort of heady intellectual understanding of faith or the need for faith. I want the experience of God. The closest thing I know to this is my experience of Melena and Rudy.
I don't just love my kids because we share some DNA. It really has to do with who they are. I love the 'hand on my hip, rolling my eyes' girl. I love the 'i've jumped off the couch for the 10th time today and smashed gold fish crackers into the carpet' boy. While they are part of who I am and I am part of who they are - I long for them. I want to be near them. I want to understand them. I want their lives to have purpose and meaning. I want to shield them from all the bad things out there. I want them to have a full and rich experience of life. I want to continue to long for them because I feel fully alive when I can experience who they are.
Ultimately faith isn't a belief thing for me as much as it is an experience thing. It's not about what beliefs are in or out this month. Or what beliefs are correct under someone's interpretation of what faith is to be. No, faith is the experience. It's the longing. In the same way I would never give up being the mom of a five year old named Rudy, I cannot give up my longing to be with God.