many babies joined the world on march 7, 2016. i was one of them.
becoming a mother has done several things to me, but there are two that i want to talk about.
the first thing that has happened is that i have woken up. i’ve noticed over this past year how little i am able to move past tragedies when i hear about them.
200 civilians killed by the united states in mosul.
famine in south sudan.
syrian conjoined twins, dying, unable to reach safety for a perfectly feasible and life-saving heart surgery.
a leader gassing his own people, again, killing children.
attacks in paris, london, brussels.
one man stabbed to death because of his skin color.
mothers and fathers burying their babies.
police shooting after police shooting of unarmed black men.
a climate, merely responding to what we’ve done to it, destroying our homes and land.
our security at risk.
and we feel helpless and so far away, blocked by the barricades of bureaucracy and distance.
i thought that at first i just had really thin skin, that this stuff had always been happening, and that now, i have a lesser ability to ignore it or tune it out.
but i’ve realized that it’s so much deeper than skin.
i’ve always been interested in social justice and social welfare and doing what we can to demand that such ideas extend to protect everyone.
but i’ve never cried in response to babies dying on the other side of the world before.
having a baby has made me realize that there are no such thing as other people’s children. having a baby has made me realize that every baby is my baby and every mother is my mother. it has made me realize that i am that mother and that baby is my baby, and it didn’t happen all of a sudden because i had a baby, it has always been that way. the humanity in each of them has always been the humanity in myself. i didn’t realize this to this fullness because i’ve become more sensitive, i realized this because i’ve gained a new level of consciousness. i am awake.
2016 was an odd year to have a baby. it was an awkward time to bring life into the world when tragedy strikes my homeland, when all the values i hold dear in protecting and partnering with the most vulnerable among us are threatened and endangered.
but it was the year i brought my son into the world, and it was the year my son brought me into the world.
it is because of this new awakening that i find myself experiencing the second major change. i am much less tolerant of unacceptable things.
when we are ignorant, we are calloused, and when we are calloused, we are not moved by the irritants scratching our hearts. but these days my heart is raw, and it feels so weak. however, i know that my ability to feel deeply, my ability to be angered, outraged, broken, saddened, and weary doesn’t make me weak. it makes me human. it means i can also feel joy and excitement and pleasure and contentment and peace. motherhood has opened me up and ripped away my securities.
there are no excuses for the pain we cause each other. i’ve reached a point where i’ve realized that if it is not filled with love, i have no time for it. i’ve also reached a point where i’ve realized that maybe my love needs to be expressed more in my ears and less in my mouth.
motherhood has birthed more than one person. and like a newborn, i can make a lot of noise, but i need to grow up a little before i can speak in a way that makes sense to others. i need to listen more so i can learn how to speak. i need to let time strengthen my eyesight so that i can see further and further and more clearly.
but i also know that the experience of birth isn’t limited to those of us who have the ability to give birth physically.
we know that this new awareness is what happens to anyone who commits to the ways of Jesus, who says yes to his example of defeating evil and violence with love. being born again, opening your eyes, waking up, a new level of consciousness – we all come to it differently.
we all reach that experience that breaks our hearts open, leaving us raw. and we can’t be the same or look at things the same way in our world, our jobs, our marriages, our families, our communities. this new sight can bring even fuller living in all those things, and sometimes it means we have to leave some things.
my prayer for our world now is tender hearts for the people so that they can break more easily. we need to break so we can still be human. and that’s ultimately what i want for our world, for us to be human and remember that humanity is shared.