Lullabies for Me

Our biological children are 14 and 12. It’s so much fun to have adult (and semi-adult) conversations about faith with them, whether those are conversations about life or theology (my 14 year old daughter has recently been struggling with the book of Joshua and God’s call for the Israelites to kill the Canaanites). It's a joy to parent them. And frankly, I’m probably better suited for parenting teens and pre-teens than young children.

But there are hidden blessings of parenting infants and toddlers, too.

One of the unexpected blessings of welcoming foster children into our lives is opening back up children’s Bibles and singing lullabies to these beautiful children. There is a beautiful anchoring in bringing oneself back to the simple truths of the faith every day.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I still hold my teen and pre-teen children. I still pray with them. I still speak simple truths to them. But there is something powerful about the repetitive care of an infant. Something liturgical.

Every night with our foster baby closes with the same liturgy. I bathe him: cupping water over his head, gently scrubbing his skin with soap. I pull his chunky little body out of the bath and put him in a towel. I towel him off and massage him with moisturizer. I brush his teeth, put on his footie pajamas, and carry him to his room. We perch on the edge of the bed, open up a book, and read the same stories I’ve read dozens (hundreds, even) of times. He fingers the pages, I hold him close. We read a story from the Bible. I try to protect the pages from his wandering fingers. I pick him up and rock him and look into his eyes as we sing lullabies together. He looks back intently. I pray over him as I lay him down and tuck him in.

Simple truths repeatedly rhythmically every night. They are truths for him. Truths for me.

In this simple liturgy my heart is reshaped. My attention narrows from my adult world of anxieties and fears to our baby's deep brown eyes. We don’t know how long we will steward him for. And how much can a seventeen month old understand? So we pour love in the form of touch and in the form of truth into the heart of this precious, broken vessel. And that touch and truth is returned to me: a precious, broken vessel.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.


Photo credit: Carlo Navarro/Unsplash