I was sure I wanted a large family, so sure that when an older acquaintance told me it wasn’t possible anymore I was sad. Times had changed, she said. The cost of living too high. Life too busy.
At that moment I was pregnant with my second child and knew I wanted more. So did my husband. Growing up, my own family was micro.
It wasn’t bad. It was just so small I yearned for more.
Some people love babies. Any babies. You know, those church ladies whose fingers are just itching to hold every newborn carried through the sanctuary doors.
That isn’t me.
But there was something so overwhelmingly incredible about the way each of my own babies looked at me with such open adoration — such acceptance — I didn’t want them to grow up and realize I wasn’t as great as they thought.
I didn’t want to disappoint them.
I didn’t want to be rejected.
That’s the feeling mom and author Margot Starbuck talks about in her newest book, “Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God” (Baker Publishing).
“What if you were received, right now, just as you are?” asks Starbuck, a mom of three and Princeton education minister.
In other words, what if God accepted me the way my babies did: totally, completely, non-judgmentally.
Babies are wired to build identity and self-worth from the way their parents and caregivers receive them. Unfortunately, parents — me included — fail to model perfect love and acceptance back.
Double unfortunately this means that as we mature, we often develop an image of God around a harsh or scolding model. If we were abandoned, as was Starbuck, we may feel abandoned by God.
But the good news, Starbuck shares, is that God loves and receives us as we are. Starbuck’s writing is both sensitive and bust-out-laughing funny as she shares her own journey of heartache, questioning, and searching for what it means to be wholly accepted and loved.
That pure, adoring acceptance I cherished in my babies? That’s the way God looks at me. Accepting such love frees us to live authentically.
“When you begin to live real,” Starbuck writes, “You give others the gift to do the same. Are you willing to accept, once and for all, that you are, forever, dearly loved and cherished? Can you fathom the possibility that anything you could possibly fear in this life or the next is overwhelmingly conquered by the reality of your eternal belovedness? Will you risk believing that who you are is acceptable to God? Sit with the possibility that God is infinitely more gracious than you have yet dared to believe. Soak in the reality that there is nothing you can do to change God’s relentless, passionate love for you.”
These are words worth sitting with.
I adore each of my children, but you don’t even need a baby to feel this way. Just read the book.
“No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:39.