Teachable Moments

Caring for Newborns in Light of the Trinity

I have a list of blogs about Parenting Newborns I can not stand to read.  Now, I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, so, suffice it to say, I won’t give you their authors, but I will give you a paraphrase of their titles:

  1. EVERYTHING you need to know as a first-time parent to feel successful and make it look easy
  2. The thrills and fun of learning how to breastfeed your first child
  3. How to thrive on no sleep and no time alone as you care for your infant
  4. How to look your best as a Mommy of a Newborn

And last, but not least….

     5. First Time Parent?  We can tell you everything you need to know in Just One List

What are these bloggers thinking?  They can’t possibly follow through on what they claim to provide, especially as the reader is a first time parent or parent of a newborn.  When I remember my first days as a first-time Mom more than 20 years ago, while it is always a pleasure to take a trip down memory lane, I do not remember any of my moments even closely resembling the above blogs.  Nope – not one!

Newborns are tough and parenting them is not a job for wimps!  While “how to” ideas can be mildly useful for parents, what is more helpful is remembering who we are in light of our God.  We mustn’t forget that our God-knowledge (theology) should still be front and center even if we can hardly think coherently due to the whole “no sleep and no time alone” thing.  Aside from learning to diaper a tiny baby, brushing up on our theology is infinitely the most-important thing we can do.  Really?  Yes, really!  But what theological thought should I ponder (considering there are thousands to choose from)?  The Trinity.

The Trinity is defined as “one God in 3-persons”; we have one God in which there are 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are each fully God and yet completely distinct.  Within the Trinity, we see how these three persons relate with one another and thus, have a template for how we are to be in relationship with one another. Being made in His image and likeness means we have the potential of reflecting the very essence of God in our relationships.  Since God is Trinity, we know as we begin the journey of parenthood that we can show our children from Day One who God is.

There are several ways we could describe God’s relationship within Himself, but one of His attributes which allow parents to know how to be in relationship with their newborns is that of God always being present.

  • Just as God is always present, we need to be present. God is always there for His children; we see this not only in the OT, but Jesus promised that when He left this world, the Holy Spirit would come to be with us (John 14:15-31).  As parents of newborns, we are to have that same quality of presence with our children. Just like us – who are God’s children and know that we are never alone, never without support, never without security – we want our children to know that when they need us, we will unquestionably be there.  We are the anchor of their world that reassures them that they are not alone and there is someone who will always be there with them in the good times and bad times. John 14:15-31 has Jesus explaining how the Father, Holy Spirit, and Himself are present with us as His people. He is not a neglectful or “hands off” God – NO, He is always there, always present.  Even when we do not deserve it, our God never forsakes us. This quality of being “present” is key between a newborn child and parent as it is the foundation of the child’s security and the attachment that needs to grow between baby and parent.

Dear Reader, we can depend on our God who is reliable to be there for us whenever we need Him.  He is present with us at all times, day or night.  As our Triune God reveals Himself as a  God who is always present, we take that same love and care and pass it on to our children.  May we not be so busy or overwhelmed in the everyday care of newborns, that we forget our God and what we are ultimately doing: discipling our children from day one when they are first born.  May God find us faithful to reflect who He is in our parenting so our children will grow to know and love our amazing, Triune God.

Blessings to you always, fondly yours, Elizabeth

BONUS:  The hymn, In The Garden, written in 1912 by C. Austin Miles, was written about Mary seeing Jesus outside the empty Tomb (John 20).  In the moment of weary weeping, Mary heard the voice and saw the face of her Teacher-Savior. What a joy we have knowing that same joyous moment of reunion that Mary experienced is ours daily as we too know the presence of God and that like Mary, “He walks with me; He talks with me and He calls me His own.”  

In the Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses…

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that he gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

Teachable Moments

Explain Life To Me

Starting 2019 off in a controversial decision, the 46th anniversary of Roe vs Wade was passed with cheers of joy in New York as new abortion laws extended the window in which an abortion could now be legally obtained within this state.  Extending a woman’s right to have an abortion into the 3rd trimester and striking abortion from the criminal code completely brings national attention to the debate over a woman’s right to choose and a baby’s right to live.

This debate is not going away any time soon, and nor do I think it should.  The question for me as a Christian is to know the position I take, but not to stop there.  How I will discuss and present this issue in front of a watching world is just as pertinent.  Yes, I believe that babies in the womb are humans and their life deserves protection by the laws of our land.  But, how I discuss this and what informs my position may be the keys to Christ-honoring discussions that actually make a difference.

Holding a position

When my kids were little and I wanted them to come to the table for dinner, I rarely made a big impression or difference on their decision to come to the table by adamantly and loudly repeating “dinner is served!!” They could quickly learn to drown out my loud voice or have it blend in with the other family noises in our home. My position that they must come to dinner was not what drew them or persuaded them to show up on time with hands washed.

I believe the same could be said for holding a position on protecting life in the womb – saying it loudly and adamantly may not get the results of change that we seek.  Hold a position, but don’t expect the mere holding of it to change anyone’s mind.

Stating the position

Going back to my children coming to dinner, holding a position adamantly never helped if I stated my position over and over without any clear rationale. I could state that I wanted them to eat dinner right now – again, and again, and again – but it didn’t motivate them to consider how key my position was to their life. They just knew I had a strong opinion I liked to say over and over. They became desensitized to the message and were even more inspired to ignore me.

Same with our strongly held views on prenatal life – stating our position repeatedly may only deafen a world that doesn’t want to listen.  Benjamin Franklin said, Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.Considering how we help people learn and not just listen and to engage in the discussion with us are key to furthering a constructive discussion on the challenging topic of life in the womb.

Explaining the position

What persuaded my children to come to dinner when I called was their understanding of why coming to dinner and doing it when I asked was crucial to them and our family.  Knowing why it was good for them and good for our relationships encouraged them to look at dinner in a whole new light. It wasn’t just something to obey or do because I thought it was “right”; I equipped them with a rationale that made sense to them.

Again, same with our discussion regarding abortion.  Why do we believe that abortion is wrong? And when is it wrong?  And for whom is it wrong? And is it always wrong? These may seem obvious at first, but thinking deeper than an obvious answer will be more compelling to anyone we engage with than surface truths.  

For me, this has lead to a deeper study and appreciation of what it means to be made in God’s image.  Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  The theological understanding of what it means to be an image-bearer can be discussed across a historical landscape and with various understandings.  Are we image bearers of God because we inherently are created with attributes that we alone in creation share with Him? Are we image bearers because our function is to carry out a God-given vocation of ruling and representing our creator?  Or, are we image bearers because of our relational abilities, unique in creation in how we know, love and experience God and one another? Hopefully, this deeper theological thinking creates within myself an appreciation for the distinctiveness and preciousness of human life which in turn inspires me to engage in rationale and engaging conversations regarding the baby in the womb.

The “How” of the position

Last, but definitely, not least – how I speak of my position should always be leading by my Christian virtue.  Even in hard conversations, consistently showing grace and the fruit of the Spirit is commanded.

  • Colossians 4:6, “Your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
  • Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such thing there is no law.”

Dear Reader, may our engagement with our culture over issues that hit at the very heart of our families, the very lives of our children, be productive in leading others to know their Creator God and to love Him with all their hearts. May we hold a position, state our position, explain our position and do so in winsome ways that capture the attention and heart of our listener to the glory of God.

Blessings on your life!  

Fondly yours, Elizabeth