Four years ago last week, we brought a little five pound, five week old baby home to live with us. I remember being terrified the entire first 24 hours she was home. My husband and I took turns sitting up with her overnight that first night. I think we stayed up partially because she was restless and fussy, but partially because we were afraid to fall asleep. It seems funny now, it wasn’t like she was going to raid the refrigerator or draw on the wall or use scissors unsupervised (all activities she has since indulged in). But there was this incredibly fragile human in our house now and all the territory was uncharted and a bit scary.
Last week, I handed this same little girl a five dollar bill, a handwritten note requesting a loaf of bread, gave her instructions to wait in line and be polite, and sent her into a bakery by herself. At first, she wondered out loud who would open the door for her. I reminded her she usually opens the door for me. Then, she placated herself with the idea that some Good Samaritan would smile upon her and kindly open the door. And with that happy thought, off she ran. She returned a few minutes later with a loaf of bread tucked under her arm, change in her pocket, and a humungous smile on her face. The note returned with her, carrying a message back that she had been very polite.
Everyone tells me that time goes so fast. I don’t need their reminders, but I don’t mind them either. Days and weeks and years repeat over and over. These are probably some of the happiest days of my life, I tell myself. It is sad to me that these happy days are so short, but I am grateful for their presence at all. Some days the overwhelming feeling that I carried that first night, an undercurrent of excitement and anxiety about the future, making me catch my breath, comes back. I watch as the days back away off of the calendar. I watch as the children grow taller, older, and more independent. I wonder what they will be like when they are grown. But then I stop myself before that thought is fully formed. I want each day to be here, now, not the future. Never before have I wanted to future to stall more than now. Nor do I wish to dream about the future I am not promised. It is easy to dream as a child. It is with greater caution that an adult dreams.
Each month and year repeats. Each one sends us deeper into uncharted territory as parents, as our children grow, as children of God. We live the same months over and over again each year, marking off the same holidays, rituals, and every days. But each day is unique and different. As a Creator and Father, God has made each story and path and day new. We exist in His image, but individually created for unique purposes. I love how Chesterton puts it in Orthodoxy. “But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. ” Days repeat themselves. The Cross remains the same. The Heavenly Father never changes. But, His creativity and that of His world is boundless, His grace is unending, every day.
My children grow, as children have since time began. It is how a life lives. Each life is different. Each stage is unknown. Each path is uncertain. But what is certain is the promise that God’s mercies are new each morning. That He renews His mercies daily. While our salvation is fixed and firm, it is worked out continually. I love this tension that occurs, most visibly paralleled, when one loves a child. They are born at a fixed point in time. The love we have for them continues on and renews over and over.
Time goes fast and we “do it again” every day. The uncharted roads and paths are the chances for God to prove His faithful care to us. He gives us new stages that burrow into the repeated months. And just like the days when we send our children into unfamiliar territory and watch over them carefully and with pride, so He does the same for us.
The days bring new challenges and twists. But there is a constant Father who delights in watching His children grow and thrive, who sits up at night to make sure their needs are met. That is a fixed joy that does not change.