There seem to be moments where my reality is struck by sentimentality, and the world around me carries with it a deeper, emotional meaning. I have come to value those moments as divine. It is as if God is prodding me to see life with a renewed set of eyes, all of a sudden becoming privileged to the deeper realities already present in which I get to participate.
One evening while sitting and mildly participating in the chaos of supper time, I had one of those very moments. I looked at my eldest son who was laughing like he usually does, and I thought to myself “what a precious gift.” I remember thinking about how much like his mother he is, deeply empathetic, bashful and delightfully introverted. I looked over at my 8 month old, loudly testing out his voice while his mother was trying to feed him. Instead he was looking over at his older brother who was successfully making him laugh, and grabbing the spoon full of food. I remember thinking that even at 8 months old his personality is starting to come out. He is a spicy little fire cracker. An infant who knows what he wants. We’ve aptly called our boys “sugar and spice.” At the end of this moment, where sentimentality took its hold, I was reminded that our children are beautiful.
These are divine moments because this beauty is part of the biblical story. The beauty of who we are is God given. It is crafted for us so elegantly in the creation account of Genesis 1 and 2, where a running theme can be found in the words “and it was good.”
Parents need to avoid fatalism. Too many times have I been told stories of childhoods in Christian homes wherein the premise of existence is an ugly sinfulness only to be remedied by Jesus. Sin is ugly and Jesus is saviour; these are indeed truths. But sin isn’t original. Being made in the image of God is original. Being created good is a divinely beautiful. That beauty is original. A beauty we strive for. A beauty as it was intended. We are not created ugly and sinful. We are created beautifully.
When I held both my sons after they were born, it was a beauty I had the absolute privilege to hold in my arms. Fraught with emotions, I was numb both times. Both intrigued and terrified of that which I held. All I could do is love. All I can continue to do is love and let them know of the beauty that God intended. It is a beauty found within them. As a parent who believes whole heartedly in the hopeful foundations of Genesis 1 and 2 and the fulfillment of such in Jesus, I hope beyond all hope that I can introduce them into the fullness of that beauty in Jesus even in the midst of a world and humanity living within the implications of disobedience.
The implications here run deep. The fullness of Jesus is not merely limited to saving us from ‘ugliness of sin’ but an invitation into a full and holistic redemption of which we get to participate. A redemption which seeks “shalom” as it was intended in Genesis 1 and 2. This is the groundwork for a daring faith which collides with our broken world. Our children are a beautiful part of that. Any child on this, for the most part, green earth who does not know they are beautiful are being robbed of something integral; love and hope.
Pilgram Markpek, a 16th century Anabaptist reformer writes that children are born “with the purity of creation, unaware of good and evil..” I love that line. Our children are beautiful. As parents, as people of faith, it is our divine duty to empower the presence of Jesus, inviting our beautiful, made for good children into a blessed fullness of shalom fit for those made in the image of a loving and beautiful God. May we be parents to tell our children that they are beautiful!