“Jesus fell too, you know.” I soothed my daughter’s skinned knee with hugs and a unicorn bandage, pondering the courage and love of toddler Jesus.
Didn’t his knees get scraped as he learned to crawl? Didn’t he get rashes and bruises? The King of Kings tripped and tumbled; he peed, pooped, and all the rest. All of it — and with no shame whatsoever.
He also tasted sweet honey, smelled warm bread, and relished the small wonders of his created earth. Letting himself live into the limitations and beauty of humanity, he chose to come as one of us. He entered the world as a beginner. As an utterly dependent infant. Jesus chose to live there.
I used to think becoming an adult would make life easier. Turns out, adulthood is a different place, but not an easier one. Parenthood scrapes against my perfectionism and impeccable planning. Choosing to love my kids means growing limber in so many ways (failing, breaking … and learning to repair). I have a squishy postpartum tummy, anxiety, and earplugs for days when all the noise is just too much.
I’m also growing gentle. Curious. Kind. I’m learning how to let myself be a beginner like Jesus-in-the-flesh.
In loving my children (and myself), I feel like I’m getting to grow up a second time. I wear stickers and snot. I have 1000 crushed goldfish in my van. I danced in public with my baby — something that would have embarrassed a past self-conscious and “grown-up” part of me. Becoming a little more human each day brings me to self-forgetfulness and beauty.
Do I still fight with perfectionism and my penchant for ultra-rationality? 100% yes. And did I also shiver in the 10° night so my children and I could feel the dramatic chill against our skin? Yep, that too.
Our kids, friends, spouses, and students watch us navigate the world. They see our minds, bodies, and souls through what we love and how we love it — and I want those watching me to see an image of Jesus, who was gentle, curious, and kind with his humanity.
Sarah E. Westfall (one of my most favorite writerly voices) shares that “It is the mystery of God that frees us to be human. His vastness gives us room to breathe, to be flesh and bone and finite creatures, because he has us surrounded.”
Jesus wore it all. Snot, exhaustion, sweat, perfume, tears, dirt. He gave himself to new beginnings and belonging in this world even as his heart knew the wholeness of heaven.
He allowed his holy self to dwell in finite space. Emmanuel. God is gentle with our new beginnings, and one comes with each day. With each child. With each stage of life.
So what if you fall this year? Fail at something? Forget yourself? And what if that were a GOOD thing? A place leading you to more dependence and more Jesus?
Make some messes with your kids. Try a new hobby. Stop to watch the rain, the sun, the darkness. Pursue laughter. Sit with grief. Pick when to fix and when to listen. You’re in perfect company because Jesus did it all.