Blessings always come with responsibilities. The greater the blessing, the greater the responsibility. When I was a kid, if my pockets were full of a few quarters and a couple cubes of bubble gum, then I felt blessed and other kids felt jealous. But when I got my first car, I quickly learned that cars don’t run on quarters and bubble gum. The blessing of a car meant the hard work of babysitting and odd jobs to earn enough money to fill the gas tank.
When I became a mom, the blessing of each of my daughters came also with the heavy weight of responsibility. Not only do I receive the pure joy and pride of being a mother to my two gorgeous, strong-willed, and independent little girls, but every time I look at them, I’m reminded of the great calling God has put on my life to care for my girls, to teach them, and to love them, even when that means the tough kind of love.
During my first pregnancy, everyone told me that the first time I met our baby, it would be “love at first sight.” Our baby girl didn’t come into the world according to plan. Breach, a month early, emergency C section, all happened in a confusing blur. But I still prepared my heart that when I first gazed on her face all the warm fuzzy mom feelings would kick in. I was shaky and drowsy. My body itched from head to toe. We tried skin to skin, but then the nurse whisked her away because of a low pulse. I felt weighted down by unfulfilled expectations and self-doubt. I was sore and confused, and disappointed in my ability to feel all the emotions I was supposed to feel.
My moment with my daughter didn’t come until 12 hours later as we lay together in the hospital bed, wide eyed, as the rest of the world slept. The moment was a gift born out of uncertainty and struggle, and shined bright in the dark night around us. Like a star that shone in an unexpected world upon the greatest gift ever given, I looked at my baby’s bright open eyes as she took in the world for the first time, and whispered, “Hello beautiful.” I realized then, as I am reminded often, that this gift of life will never be perfect, but always worth it. I quickly learned the difficulty of motherhood with sleepless nights and long, lonely days. I was responsible for this bright, beautiful, tiresome little life.
I realized then that I could respond to my new responsibility in a few different ways. I could resist it or even grow to resent the extra work. I could become a slave to it, allowing the list of baby to do’s to run my life and suck all the joy out of it. Or, I could embrace this new rhythm of motherhood, leaning on God for extra measures of strength when I had used my last.
Each night, the quiet moments alone with my girl, wide awake, as the world around us dozed, reminded me of the blessings attached to this little gift. I could have moments of doubt and self-pity that came with the flow of big emotions of early motherhood, but every night I tried to find a moment to steep myself in gratitude to remember the gift and the giver.
When we think of the way the Bible talks about gifts, “Every good and perfect gift is from God above,” it’s easy to think that a perfect gift means something that is lovely, flawless, and uncomplicated, like quarters and bubble gum, but in life we quickly learn that the most perfect gifts come with responsibility and sacrifice. We can choose to embrace God’s gifts and draw closer to him, or miss an opportunity for God to touch our hearts and lives with His call to greater responsibility and trust.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.”
James 1:17-18 (NIV)